Review of The Innocent Files
This Netflix documentary series takes an in-depth look at nine different wrongful convictions. The common theme in all of these wrongful convictions is Prosecutorial misconduct and eyewitness misidentifications.
If you are a juror and someone you deem as credible gets on the stand and points at a defendant and says with 100% certainty that he or she is responsible for the crime, it’s hard not to vote to convict. You may even be willing to overlook exculpatory evidence. Police and prosecutors certainly do.
Wrongful convictions happen for a host of reasons: false confessions, prosecutorial misconduct, poor defense lawyers, unethical detectives, faulty eyewitness testimony, questionable expert testimony. At the end of these breaks in the criminal justice system, there is a poor soul whose life is forever changed. The most frustrating part of it is that in the majority of cases, the unethical detective or prosecutor is seldomly held responsible. They go on with their careers. They get promotions. They retire. No one is held accountable for the lives destroyed.
Each of the nine episodes tells a story of heartbreak and outrage. The story of Alfred Dewayne Brown in episode eight made me the angriest. The tactics used by Prosecutor Dan Rizzo were despicable. When faced with exculpatory evidence, what does Dan Rizzo do? He buries it. When Dan Rizzo needs an additional witness to strengthen his case, what does he do? He puts an innocent woman behind bars until that woman, Alfred’s girlfriend, changes her story, sealing Alfred’s fate.
The good news for each of the wrongfully convicted in this series is that they all eventually gain their freedom. Most receive compensation for their false imprisonment. Your faith is restored not by the release of the wrongfully convicted but by the reporters, lawyers, and individuals who put in the time and effort to uncover the truth.