GOVX 2020: Making An Exoneree

For the third straight year, the Prisons and Justice Initiative sponsored the groundbreaking class “Making an Exoneree” class. In the 2020 version, 15 Georgetown undergraduate students worked to free 5 individuals who have served a combined total of 94 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.

Co-taught by PJI Director Marc Howard and his childhood friend Marty Tankleff (himself an exoneree who served almost 18 years in prison), the students created short documentaries on each case, based on extensive interviews with eyewitnesses, attorneys, experts, family members, and the incarcerated “clients” themselves.

The 2020 cohort had to overcome the added challenge of Covid-19, which restricted their travel and ability to work together at Georgetown since early March. Nonetheless, the documentaries they have produced are extraordinarily moving and powerful.

Normally the class culminates in a major public event that attracts a huge live audience to watch the premieres of the documentaries and also to hear the voices—live by phone from prison—of the potential exonerees. The 2019 event had also featured Valentino Dixon, who was himself exonerated on September 19, 2018, thanks to the work of the 2018 cohort of this class. PJI plans to host another Making an Exoneree event in the future, once in-person gatherings becomes possible. And we will continue to work towards achieving more exonerations in the future.

We will roll out the five videos from this project, one per week, on Wednesdays. Below, you will find more information about each of our 5 cases, including links to the full documentaries as they become available, which are also available as a playlist on the PJI YouTube channel. 

Jermane Scott: 25 years
Edward Martinez: 16 years
Terrel Barros: 8 years
Keith Washington: 12 years