This compelling exhibition presents photographic portraits of 45 wrongfully convicted individuals who were exonerated through DNA evidence. While police “mugshots” and photo arrays have routinely been used to condemn the guilty, artist Taryn Simon reframes this photographic convention and turns the camera around to document these innocent victims of mistaken identity and perverted justice, using the medium of photography to humanize the victims. The collection powerfully exposes the fault-lines of a deeply flawed and unreliable criminal judicial system.

The Innocents: Headshots brings together two disparate themes in criminal justice. On the one hand, there is the issue of science and forensic identity — the history of criminal identification techniques from 19th century fingerprint technology, photography, and lie detectors, to the current reliance on DNA forensics in exonerating innocents. But a second, equally vivid, theme running through The Innocents is the history of crime photography. In Taryn Simon’s hands, the exhibition becomes nothing less than an investigation of photography’s role in the criminal justice system.

During the summer of 2000, the New York Times Magazine assigned photographer Taryn Simon to photograph men who were wrongfully convicted, imprisoned, exonerated and subsequently freed from death row. Inspired by this project, Simon then received a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Photography to expand the project, photographing and interviewing individuals who were unfairly convicted across the country. Simon’s work confronts photography’s ability to blur truth and fiction – an ambiguity that can have severe, even lethal consequences.

The Innocents is a traveling exhibition presented by Umbrage Editions to mark the ten-year anniversary of the founding of the Innocence Project in its mission to free the innocent and transform criminal justice into a more equitable and reliable system.

The exhibition was on display February 11, 2006 – April 15, 2006.


After Innocence
Directed by Jessica Sanders, 2004

This Sundance award-winning film tells the story of seven men and their emotional journey back into society and efforts to rebuild their lives after being wrongfully imprisoned for decades and then released after DNA evidence proved their innocence. The film raises basic questions about human rights and society’s moral obligation to the innocent and places a spotlight on the flaws in our criminal justice system that lead to wrongful conviction of the innocent.

After Innocence is directed by Jessica Sanders, an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker (“Sing!”), and was produced and written by Jessica Sanders and Marc Simon in association with The American Film Foundation. Simon attended the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and was a student at the Innocence Project.

An Interview with Jessica Sanders

The Exonerated
Directed by Bob Balaban, 2004

Based on the play of the same name written by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, The Exonerated portrays the true stories of six death row exonerees, starring actors Brian Dennehy, Danny Glover, Delroy Lindo, Aidan Quinn, Susan Sarandon, and David Brown Jr.


Provisions presents an evening of Performance excerpts from the critically acclaimed play, The Exonerated (2000) with noted platwrights Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, followed by readings from their new book Living Justice: Love, Freedom and the Making of The Exonerated (2004).

Created from interviews they conducted with former death row inmates whose wrongful convictions were eventually overturned, The Exonerated examines capital punishment and the justice system using the stories of six death row exonerees. The Exonerated was first staged by Tim Robbins’ The Actor’s Gang in 2002 and later by Bleeker Street Theater’s The Culture Project. It has won the 2003 Lucille Lortel Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway play, and a Drama Desk Award.

A Review of the Play
An Interview with Blank and Jensen


DNA on Trial: A Teach-In on Genetic Justice

Along with the exhibition and film screenings, a panel including Madeline deLone (director of The Innocence Project), Kirk Bloodsworth (author of Bloodsworth: The True Story of The First Death-Row Exoneree), and Marc Rotenburg (Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center) spoke about the history, practice, ethics, and future of DNA technology in criminal justice.



Foreward to The Innocents, by Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon at the Gagosian Gallery
Exhibitions of Simon’s work in Los Angeles and London

The Innocents: Headshots at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies
April 7 – May 11, 2004

Highlighting a Tragic Chink in the Criminal Justice System
Stephen Holden, The New York Times, October 21, 2005 – A review of After Innocence, a 2004 documentary

Junk Science, Junk Evidence
Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, The New York Times, May 11, 2001

Kirk Bloodsworth on the Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act
Bloodsworth was the first wrongfully imprisoned inmate to be exonerated from death row through DNA evidence (in 1993).

Kirk Bloodsworth addresses Virginia Law students

Life After Exoneration Program
LAEP’s mission is to address the injustice of wrongful conviction and incarceration by assisting exonerees and their family members in re-building their lives on the outside, by working to secure their physical, spiritual, psychological, social and economic well being.

360 Degrees: Perspectives on the U.S. Criminal Justice System

Truth in Justice
Truth in Justice is an educational non-profit organized to educate the public regarding the vulnerabilities in the U. S. criminal justice system that make the criminal conviction of wholly innocent persons possible.


Despite devastating life losses, many of the exonerated have turned to activist work, raising awareness around the issues and stories of the wrongly convicted, advocating for prison and legal reform, and speaking out on behalf of the incarcerated. The following interviews are just a few of the many voices of the exonerated. Several-Daye, Ochoa, Fritz, and Shepard-are included in The Innocents exhibition and book, which profiles exonerated 45 men and women.

However, over 170 men and women have been exonerated due to DNA evidence in recent years, and the number continues to grow as attorneys and advocacy organizations and Innocence Projects campaign on behalf of wrongly convicted individuals. Some of these – Gauger, Nieves, and Wilson – speak out below.

PBS: The Case for Innocence

PBS: Interviews of the Exonerated

PBS: Interview with Peter Neufeld, 
Founder, The Innocence Project

PBS: Interview with Barry Scheck
Founder, The Innocence Project

Interview with Madeline deLone
Executive Director, The Innocence Project

Fatal Flaws: The Case of Earl Washington
WBUR-FM (audio documentary)

The Innocents: Someone Else’s Crime
Interviews with Taryn Simon and several wrongfully convicted people (Frederick Daye, Chris Ochoa, Dennis Fritz and David Shepard) on NPR’s All Things Considered

The Story of Harold Wilson
On Democracy Now!

Diane Rehm Interviews Kirk Bloodsworth

CNN: Larry King Interviews Kirk Bloodsworth

The Work of an Innocence Project
Michael F. Cromett, J.D. And Susan M. Thurston Myster, PH.D., Forensic Magazine,October/ November 2005

A Passion for Justice: Conversation with Peter Neufeld
Harry Kreisler, Institute of International Studies, University of California at Berkeley

An Independent Review Board for Wrongful Convictions
David Horan, Northern Illinois University Law Review, 20, 91-189 (2000)

Convicted by Juries, Exonerated By Science:
Case Studies in the Use of DNA Evidence to Establish Innocence After Trial 

U.S. Department of Justice (1996)

Selective Arrests: an Ever-Expanding DNA Forensic Database, and the Specter of an Early Twenty-First Century Equivalent of Phrenology
Troy Duster in DNA and the Criminal Justice System: The Technology of Justice, ed. by David Lazer (2004)

Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted
Jim Dwyer, Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck

Bloodsworth: The True Story of One Man’s Triumph over Injustice
Tim Junkin

DNA on Trial: Genetic Identification and Criminal Justice
Paul R. Billings

Science at the Bar: Law, Science, and Technology in America
Sheila Jasanoff

DNA and the Criminal Justice System: The Technology of Justice
David Lazer, ed.

Forensic Identity

Crime Photography

Exoneration in the News

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