ACCURACY & JUSTICE WORKSHOPS
Accuracy & Justice is a project to bring together exonerated death row survivors and criminal justice practitioners, including groups of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges or other professionals, in facilitated workshops about the causes of wrongful convictions and potential strategies for enhancing conviction integrity and reducing wrongful convictions in the future.
An Accuracy & Justice workshop is an approximately two-hour session with a panel of three exonerated death row survivors. The workshops are facilitated by an attorney-facilitator with in-depth knowledge of the law and a specific expertise in wrongful capital convictions. Each workshop group’s size and composition may vary.
Since fall of 2019, death row exoneree panelists and facilitators have conducted in-person Accuracy and Justice (A&J) workshops in Seattle, WA and San Joaquin, CA, and online workshops for the District Attorney’s Office and Criminal Investigation Unit in Dallas, TX, Washoe County Public Defender’s Office in Nevada, an online town hall with State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s office in Orange County, FL, a sample online workshop for potential hosts, and a workshop for the Wyoming County Bar Association.
ACCURACY & JUSTICE WORKSHOPS
We have conducted A&J workshops to ten offices/associations across the U.S. that engaged over 680 criminal justice practitioners.
We surveyed 195 of these practitioners after workshops, who reported their thoughts on A&J. The results were astounding:
October 8, 2020 - Dallas District Attorney's Office and Criminal Investigation Unit
October 23, 2020 - Wyoming State Bar Association
August 7, 2020 - WTI members spoke to the Washoe County, Nevada Public Defender's Office.
July 30, 2020 - The Orlando, Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala welcomed WTI members.
July 1, 2020 - WTI members did two presentations for the 18th Judicial District Colorado. One for the Conviction Review Unit and one for the Top Prosecutors.
May 7, 2020 - Open audience workshop
October 28, 2019 - San Joaquin District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar and her office welcomed Witness to Innocence exonerees for an A&J workshop and brought them to a presentation for high school students.
September 24, 2019 - The Office of the District Attorney of King County in Seattle held an A&J workshop for around 80 attorneys and members of law enforcement.
August 19 - 20, 2019 - The Office of the District Attorney of Colorado's 5th Judicial District hosted exonerees at two A&J workshops for groups of prosecutors and law enforcement in Eagle County and Summit County.
Basalt Police Sgt. Aaron Munch, Kwame Ajamu, Gary Drinkard, Sabrina Butler-Smith, and Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott in Eagle County/Megan Tackett/Aspen Daily News
April 11, 2019 - We conducted an A&J workshop in Brooklyn, NY, with Kings County District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, their Conviction Integrity Unit, and a large group of prosecutors in his office.
March 2019 - As part of the outcome of Accuracy & Justice workshops, Kirk Bloodsworth helped author a paper titled "Prosecutors and Public Defense" along with the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College.
December 11-12, 2018 - Exonerees met with Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, Conviction Integrity Unit Head Patricia Cummings, and over 400 prosecutors and law enforcement officials.
September 25, 2018 - At the Washington State 60th Annual Judicial Conference, we conducted an A&J workshop after being selected through a competitive proposal process.
June 21, 2018 - We conducted an A&J workshop for 35 senior prosecutors from offices located across the United States at the ‘Elevating the Voice and Role of Prosecutors’ Conference held at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. The conference was sponsored by the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution.
April 20, 2018 - Our April workshop was for 25 senior prosecutors from the office of State Attorney Andrew Warren, 13th Judicial Circuit, in Tampa, FL. The three participating exonerated death row survivors also shared their stories with approximately 75 staff members from the DA’s office after the workshop.
Policy impact: State Attorney Andrew Warren (Hillsborough County, FL) established a new, first-ever Conviction Review Unit after this A&J workshop.
Death row exonerees Sabrina Butler-Smith, Ray Krone, and Randy Steidl with State Attorney Andrew Warren
December 8, 2017 - We conducted an A&J workshop for 15 attorneys from the Criminal Division of the office of Pete Holmes, Seattle City Attorney in Seattle, WA.
October 23, 2017 - We organized and led a 90-minute workshop for elected prosecutors and criminal justice experts as part of a day-long national convening of DA’s sponsored by Fair and Just Prosecution (FJP) in Philadelphia, PA. Elected officials in attendance included: Aramis Ayala, State Attorney, 9th Judicial Circuit, Orlando, FL; Mark Dupree, District Attorney, Wyandotte County, Kansas City, KS; Kim Gardner, Circuit Attorney, City of St. Louis, MO; Eric Gonzalez, Acting District Attorney, Brooklyn, NY; Marilyn Mosby, State’s Attorney, City of Baltimore, MD; Melissa Nelson, State Attorney, 4th Judicial Circuit, Jacksonville, FL; Kim Ogg, District Attorney, Harris County, Houston, TX; and Andrew Warren, State Attorney, 13th Judicial Circuit, Tampa, FL.
Policy impact: State Attorney Aramis Ayala (Orange-Oceola Counties, FL) established a new, first-ever Conviction Review Unit after attending this A&J workshop.
Sabrina Butler-Smith and State Attorney Aramis Ayala
October 6, 2017 - We conducted the first A&J workshop for 20 senior prosecutors from the office of Jeff Rosen, District Attorney of Santa Clara County, CA. The three participating exonerated death row survivors also shared their stories with approximately 100 staff members from the DA’s office after the workshop.
FAQ about A&J
Is there any cost for hosting an Accuracy & Justice workshop?
No, Witness to Innocence provides the workshop free of charge. The project is funded by grants and individual contributions.
The primary funder of A&J is the European Commission; other contributors include the Lush Charitable Giving Fund, Open Society Foundations, Tides Foundation, and Vanguard Charitable Trust.
What is expected from an organization that hosts a workshop?
Witness to Innocence (WTI) expects the host organization to provide a conference room where the agreed-upon number of workshop participants and the WTI team can be comfortably accommodated. WTI does not provide coffee or snacks for the workshop, but the host group is welcome to do so.
What is the format of the workshop?
Brief Introductions of the WTI team and workshop participants
Introductory presentation by the attorney-facilitator
Brief background presentations by the three exonerated death row survivors on the panel
Questions for the exonerated death row survivors from the attorney-facilitator
Questions for the exonerated death row survivors from the workshop participants
Facilitated conversation between exonerated death row survivors and workshop participants about the causes of wrongful convictions and potential strategies for preventing wrongful convictions in the future
Workshop participants complete and return evaluation forms
If my agency, department, or organization is interested in hosting an Accuracy & Justice workshop, what is the next step?