As everyone finishes binge-watching “Tiger King,” Netflix is preparing to release their next true crime documentary, “The Innocence Files.” The nine episode series looks at the attorneys and clients brought together as part of the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization committed to criminal justice reform and changing wrongful convictions. Episodes will be directed by Liz Garbus, Alex Gibney, Roger Ross Williams, Jed Rothstein, Andy Grieve, and Sarah Dowland.
The trailer for the series situates this as a show where the verdicts have already been decided — and the inherent knowledge that said verdict is wrong. Nine different cases are laid out, involving predominately men of color, who are serving long-term sentences for crimes they didn’t commit. One attorney says about one case that there is no physical evidence connecting the client to the crime. Are these convictions frame-up jobs to secure a conviction? That’s up for the viewer to decide but as the attorneys and men involved share their stories there looks to be a lot of tears. The final line spoken by one attorney, “The best thing a lawyer can do with their license is get an innocent guy out of prison” is resonant.
Netflix has been at the forefront of discussing wrongful convictions and the prison industrial complex. They are the streaming home for the incredibly powerful “Time: The Kalief Browder Story” and also put out Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us.” DuVernay’s look at the Central Park (now Exonerated) Five and their trial for rape and assault was a critical darling, winning a Primetime Emmy for actor Jharrel Jerome. Netflix and DuVernay are also currently being sued by former New York prosecutor Linda Fairstein for what she considers an unfair portrayal of herself. With regards to the lawsuit Netflix says, ““Linda Fairstein’s frivolous lawsuit is without merit. We intend to vigorously defend ‘When They See Us’ and Ava DuVernay and Attica Locke, the incredible team behind the series.”
It would be hard to watch all of these titles back-to-back but they certainly show a grander awareness of the prison system and how many men slip through the cracks. With so many new movies and shows hitting Netflix in April “The Innocence Files” is one to add.
“The Innocence Files” hits Netflix April 15.