Wrongful conviction is one of the major problems that the justice system faces. There are several people who have spent years behind bars for crimes that they did not commit. Much worse is that there are people whom the judicial system has sentenced to death for crimes they did not commit. Wrongful conviction is one of the major reasons that people use to oppose capital punishments. The movie “The Exonerated” clearly captures the issue of wrongful conviction. The movie follows the lives of six people – five men and a woman – victims of wrongful conviction.
Relating each story of the six people who were victims of wrongful conviction brings out the message of the movie strongly. All six people in the movie face death sentences prior to their exoneration due to DNA evidence. The six prisoners narrate their stories plainly without any emotions. However, deep within each individual, lie intense emotions. They relate how there is police and prosecutorial misconduct which lead to wrongful conviction. These stories narrate how wrongful conviction wastes precious years of various individuals.
Despite the movie having a somber atmosphere, several characters in the play give their expressions of faith and hope. Sunny Jacobs (Susan Sarandon) is one of the characters that portray faith and hope. Despite being wrongful convicted for the murder of Florida state trooper and a Canadian constable, Sunny decides not to feel sorry for herself. Sunny does not give up on the hope of being exonerated despite having very little legal grounds for exoneration. She knows that there is a power that is much greater that the police and prosecution which led to her conviction and which would lead to her exoneration. Hope and faith of the characters in the movie show the resolve that people have when they face various adversities. People may have very little chance of overcoming their adversities but yet cling to the hope that they will one day overcome the adversities. The movie shows that one should never lose hope.
The movie clearly shows various flaws in the judicial system that lead to wrongful conviction. The court finds Kerry Max Cook (Aidan Quinn) guilty of the murder of a girl called Linda. In proving their case, the prosecution claims that detectives found Kerry’s fingerprints on the door frame of Linda’s apartment. Kerry’s defense team points out that the prosecution cannot prove when Kerry made the fingerprints and, therefore, the argument is null and void. However, the prosecution continued to claim that Kerry left the fingerprints on the night of the murder. The prosecution hid this evidence for 20 years leading to Kerry’s conviction. The plain fact is that Kerry did not murder Linda. Prior to her murder, Linda had an affair with a professor of a university she was attending. When the university discovered the affair, they fired the professor. This may have made the professor murder Linda for ruining his life.
In fact, during the night of the murder Linda’s roommate saw somebody who fit the description of the professor in Linda’s apartment. However, during the trial, Paula identified Kerry as the man who was in Linda’s apartment on the night of the murder. This shows that the prosecution may have had something to do with the sudden change of Paula’s story. This story shows how the prosecution engages in foul play in court cases, which leads to wrongful conviction of innocent people. However, deep in themselves, these prosecutors know that the people were wrongfully convicted as they are innocent. One wonders how these prosecutors would sleep soundly at night with their conscience clear knowing that they ruined the life of these people and their families.