Now that the obsession over the Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is starting to subside, the streaming service has released a new true crime docuseries that shines a light on the flawed criminal justice system in the United States. Five years after their groundbreaking and eye-opening series Making a Murderer, Netflix is back this time with The Innocence Files.
According to People magazine, the three directors of the nine-episode docuseries – Liz Garbus, Roger Ross Williams, and Alex Gibney – “want to do more than just anger and disgust.” Instead, they want to inspire viewers to get involved with criminal justice reform.
Not shocking at all to our family and many others I’m afraid. The Innocence Files: a shocking Netflix series on wrongful convictions. A new docuseries uses individual cases of false convictions to reveal a terrifyingly unreliable criminal justice system. https://t.co/vZYCqZlbAv
— Mick Geen (@J4BenGeen) April 15, 2020
“It’s about having a justice system that is actually seeking the truth,” Gibney says. “Prosecutors always hide behind this idea that they are protecting the public, but they’re not protecting the public if they are putting innocent people in jail and letting the guilty ones who are still going to commit those crimes go free.”
The new series focuses on The Innocence Project – a non-profit organization that works to help prison inmates who were wrongly convicted – and it tells the stories of eight men who were exonerated after spending years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit.
The series shows how the criminal justice system uses inexact science, junk science, and antiquated investigation methods to convict people. And, it also points out how overzealous prosecutors who are focused on winning the case at all costs become so narrow-minded about getting a conviction that they ignore the truth.
Throughout the episodes, the directors focus on three unreliable mechanisms that are a regular part of the criminal justice system and used to put people in prison: The Evidence, The Eyewitness, and The Prosecution. Each case that they highlight shows how these things can be used to get a conviction, even if the defendant is innocent.
For those new to my Twitter & Dewayne's story, The Innocence Files is amazing but the injustice continues-he has not been compensated for the time stolen from him-12 years and 62 days. Please consider contributing if you can so he can repair his life.https://t.co/Ylm10hLNy6
— Brian Stolarz (@brianstolarz) April 15, 2020
Innocence Project co-founder Peter Neufeld thinks The Innocence Files will spark discussion about “these criminal justice issues,” and he hopes that it will inspire people to think about ways we can reform the broken system.
“You have the redemption of the individual, if you will, who comes through this tunnel and is eventually exonerated, and everybody agrees the person is innocent, but you also have the additional redemption – a kind of societal redemption – in that we show what is systemically wrong with these different problems, whether its junk science or eyewitness identification, or even prosecutorial misconduct,” Neufeld explains.
All nine episodes of The Innocence Files are now streaming on Netflix.