Herman Lindsey, Executive Director of Witness to Innocence, has firsthand experience of the suffering brought on by wrongful conviction as he, like all the members of WTI, endured the trauma of being an innocent person sentenced to death. In 2006, he was wrongfully convicted and spent three years on Florida’s death row before being exonerated by a unanimous verdict from the Florida Supreme Court which ruled in July 2009 that there wasn’t enough evidence to find Herman guilty of anything, much less sentence him to death, and that he did not receive a fair trial.
Soon after his exoneration, Herman joined his fellow death row exonerees in their work to abolish the death penalty and advocate for criminal legal reforms. He credits WTI with helping him to navigate life after the traumatic experience of wrongful incarceration on death row. Herman remained in Florida, received his B.A. in Legal Studies, and worked with at-risk youth. He served five years on WTI’s board, including most recently as Board Secretary. Herman also serves on the Board of Directors of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, on the Advisory Committee of Equal Justice USA, and was an Ambassador for Represent Justice.
A dedicated advocate for those who still suffer on death rows, Herman speaks throughout the US and internationally. During the COVID 19 pandemic, to make sure this advocacy continued when in-person speaking was not possible, he created WTI’s online show "Cruel Justice,” hosting speakers on abolition and criminal legal reform. Herman is also a panelist for WTI’s Accuracy and Justice workshops where exonerees engage in facilitated conversations with prosecutors, law enforcement personnel, public defenders, judges and other criminal legal practitioners to help reduce wrongful convictions. He is a steady presence whenever death penalty or wrongful conviction legislation is looming, making sure those in power hear from people who will be directly impacted by their decisions. Advocating for innocent people like himself who are still on death rows throughout the US, Herman has said to those in authority "The problem comes in when people that have the power to correct a mistake don't take the responsibility to correct it. Put your pride down and say, ‘I'm not going to worry about my reputation.’ Because guess what? Your reputation will be greater if you find out this person was innocent, and you saved his life.”
Herman is the 135th person to have been exonerated from death row since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S. in 1976, and the 23rd person to be exonerated from death row in Florida, which has the highest rate of exonerations from death row of any state in the nation. In his new role as Executive Director, Herman looks forward to working together with his fellow exonerees and WTI allies in a team effort to abolish the death penalty and achieve meaningful criminal legal reforms.
Grants & Business Manager
Tricia Coscia's commitment to justice, equality and the dignity of all people has led her to work for a variety of social justice and human service organizations, including the Art Against AIDS campaign, Ivins House Resource and Referral Center, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Community Engagement program, and as an arts and creative program facilitator, empowering people facing physical, cognitive and other challenges. Her experience includes event and grants management, program coordination and facilitation and community organizing. She received a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and is currently working towards her MFA in Creative Writing, with her own writing focused on issues of inequity and privilege, and the personal and community outcomes of injustice.
Shujaa Graham was first sent to prison at the age of 18 and spent 5 years on San Quentin's death row. He is now a Peer Organizer, a role that allows him to engage with all of our members in a unique way. Not only does Shujaa provide support for practical issues that may hinder member engagement, but he also is at the forefront of building excitement for abolition and a commitment to sharing the powerful story that each exoneree brings everywhere they go. Click here to learn more about Shujaa.
Derrick Jamison spent nearly 20 years on Ohio's death row before being exonerated in 2005. He now works as a Peer Specialist, supporting his fellow death row exonerees on a peer-to-peer level, and engaging in their lives to aid in the creation of a more positive outlook as they continue their fight for abolition at home and abroad. Click here to learn more about Derrick.
Director of Social Work
Cara Kovalovich is the Director of Social Work for Witness to Innocence. Cara has spent much of her academic career focused on the history and effects of the death penalty in America, but has recently shifted her focus to how best to support individuals during their transition from incarceration to community life. She has earned her Bachelor of Science in Criminology from Northeastern University, and her Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. Cara has developed community needs assessment protocols for a local non-profit and has spent time working with men incarcerated within the Philadelphia Department of Prisons as they reenter their communities. Her other areas of social justice focus stem from her background in Sociology and include such topics as economic justice and structural violence.
Debra Milke spent 22 years on Arizona’s death row for a crime she did not commit. She is now the Administrative Assistant at Witness to Innocence where she supports WTI's mission to abolish the death penalty, prevent wrongful conviction and support death row exonerees across the country. Click here to learn more about Debra.
Older Adult Peer Specialist
Randal Padgett spent 5 years on Alabama's death row for a crime he did not commit. He now works as a Peer Specialist, where he builds camaraderie and mutual respect to better support and engage death row exonerees across the country. His work focuses on both a celebration of triumphs and a deeper understanding of what it means to provide support and acceptance during difficult moments. Click here to learn more about Randal.
Director of Development & Communications
Jennie Sheeks is the Director of Development & Communications for Witness to Innocence. She has more than 25 years of professional experience in fundraising, facilitation and non-profit management. She implemented the first eight years of grant-making for the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts and served as Director of Development for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Jennie has been a fundraising consultant, board member and volunteer for many community organizations and is committed to efforts led by those affected by the human rights issue being addressed. She volunteers to support Falun Dafa practitioners in exposing their illegal imprisonment and torture in China and volunteers with Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting. In 2002, Jennie lost a loved one to execution.