Roosevelt University will devote the coming academic semester to raising awareness about the plight of the wrongfully convicted with the provocative photo exhibit The Innocents and a speaker’s series featuring the voices of both wrongfully convicted individuals and leading scholars in the field.
Kicking off in September, the Wrongful Convictions Distinguished Speaker Series begins at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, in the University’s 10th floor library, 430 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago with a lecture by internationally renowned memory expert Elizabeth Loftus.
Loftus is the Distinguished Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior and Criminology, Law & Society at the University of California at Irvine. She has been an expert witness in hundreds of trials, a frequent guest on talk and national TV news shows and is known all over the world for her research on memory distortion. A pioneer in the memory field, Loftus has been ranked by her peers to be among the 100 most influential psychologists in the 20th century, and is regarded as the highest-ranking female psychologist in the world.
Then on Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. well-known photographer Taryn Simon’s celebrated photo exhibit, The Innocents: Headshots, featuring the faces and stories of 45 Americans who were wrongfully convicted, opens in Roosevelt’s Gage Gallery, 18 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.
Rob Warden, Executive Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University’s School of Law, and former Illinois Death Row inmate Gordon “Randy” Steidl will share their experiences in fighting wrongful convictions. Steidl was released from prison and exonerated in 2004 of the 1986 murders of a Paris, Ill., newlywed couple based on new evidence, including witness recantations.
Highlighting the exhibit, which will run until Oct. 31, will be a series of free lectures being held from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays during September and October in the Gage Gallery.
• A Sept. 21 lecture by Northwestern University Clinical Law Professor Steven Drizin, a leading authority on police interrogations, coerced confessions and the juvenile death penalty. He is the co-founder of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth at Northwestern University Law School.
• An Oct. 5 lecture by Delbert Tibbs, a Chicago resident who sat on Florida’s Death Row for three years in connection with a 1974 murder and rape that he didn’t commit. Linked to the crimes based on faulty eyewitness testimony, Tibbs was granted a new trial and then was set free when Florida authorities declined to retry him.
• An Oct. 12 lecture by Jonathan Jay Koehler, the Beatrice Kuhn Professor of Law at Northwestern University and an international expert in behavioral decision theory, quantitative reasoning in the courtroom and forensic science.
"Wrongful conviction is in many cases a life-and-death matter that is ruining families and destroying lives. It is one of the most crucial human rights issues our nation currently faces, and we are delighted to host an exhibit and speaker series that will take a frank look at the issue and open a discussion on what can be done to change its course,” said Bethany Barratt, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the University’s Joseph Loundy Human Rights Project, which is one of the sponsors of the series.
No one knows how many innocent people in the United States have been wrongfully convicted and are serving time in prison and/or are on Death Row, but to date there have been at least 31 wrongful convictions in Illinois. In fact, the New York Innocence Project has documented more than 270 individuals who have been exonerated based on DNA evidence around the country. The first 250 of these individuals served a combined total of 3,160 years behind bars.
“It is outrageous and shameful for a democratic free society to be wrongly convicting so many people,” added Shari Berkowitz, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Roosevelt and an expert on eyewitness testimony who believes those exonerated based on DNA evidence represent only the tip of the iceberg. According to some experts, nearly one-half of 1 percent of all criminal convictions in the United States may be wrongful, she said.
Sponsored by the Joseph Loundy Human Rights Project, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Psychology and Susan B. Rubnitz and the Justice Council of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Law School, Roosevelt’s Wrongful Conviction Distinguished Speaker Series and photo exhibit are free and open to the public. However, seating is limited. For more information, call 312-341-3768 or email email@example.com.
430 S. Michigan Ave.Chicago, IL 60605(312) 341-3500
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1400 N. Roosevelt Blvd.Schaumburg, IL 60173(847) 619-7300
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