Since 1973, 142 people in 26 states have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. On average, the exonerated prisoner spent 9.8 years behind bars.
Juan Meléndez and Greg Wilhoit, from Witness to Innocence, spent a combined 22+ years on death row for crimes they did not commit. Hear their powerful stories about their journey from death row to freedom. Professor Aliza Kaplan and Professor Tung Yin will provide legal insight on wrongful convictions and the criminal justice system.
Juan Meléndez spent seventeen years, eight months and one day on Florida’s death row for a crime he did not commit. His story highlights the many problems that plague the death penalty system, including its high risk and inevitability of being imposed on the innocent, its unfair application on the basis of race and ethnicity and its almost exclusive imposition on our most vulnerable members of society—the poor.
Greg Wilhoit from Tulsa, Oklahoma came from a middle-class Christian family, and he loved his wife and two daughters tremendously. He was an athlete, a dedicated ironworker, and he later spent five years of his life on death row for a crime he didn’t commit.
Professor Aliza Kaplan, Lewis & Clark Law School, teaches Legal Analysis and Writing, Public Interest Lawyering, and Wrongful Convictions. She regularly consults on wrongful convictions cases, represents asylum seekers and is an active board member of the Oregon Justice Resource Center. She was also the Deputy Director of the national Innocence Project, an organization that represents prison inmates in their efforts to obtain DNA testing to prove their innocence, and co-founded the New England Innocence Project. She is the author of “Oregon’s Death Penalty: The Practical Reality,” Lewis & Clark L. Rev.
Professor Tung Yin, Lewis & Clark Law School, teaches Criminal Procedure and Criminal Law. Yin’s scholarly work has focused primarily on domestic legal issues arising out of the United States’ military and prosecutorial responses to the 9/11 attacks and has examined such matters as the jurisdiction of the federal courts to entertain habeas petitions by Guantanamo Bay detainees, the theory of unilateral executive branch war powers, and the potential constitutional rights available to alien detainees outside the country.
In cooperation with Witness to Innocence
American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon
Amnesty International USA
Portland Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
L&C Law School ACLU
L&C Law School NLG
L&C Amnesty International
This event is part of the “Campus Tour of the Exonerated” sponsored by Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Juan and Greg will be speaking on March 7th at Oregon State University, Willamette University, and Western Oregon University. For questions about the tour, please contact OADP at (503) 990-7060.