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What Do We Owe the Wrongfully Convicted?

On April 28th

On April 28th, 46-year-old Frank Sterling became a free man after spending 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Sterling was cleared of a 1988 murder after another man confessed to the killing. Sterling said he confessed to the murder because of sleep deprivation and coercion. He fought for years to get evidence at the scene tested for DNA, which eventually led to the man who confessed. Sterling said walking out of jail was like heaven.

The injustice suffered by Frank Sterling is not an exception – he is the 253rd person exonerated through DNA evidence and according to the Innocence Project, he will not be the last. The Innocence Project is a non-profit legal clinic dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing. The first DNA exoneration in the U.S. was in 1989.

Each individual exonerated through DNA is unique. Their convictions were different, and their experiences after exoneration vary. The Innocence Project says collectively, they illustrate the criminal justice system’s failings and the need for reform.

On Your Call, we’ll speak with three men who collectively spent almost 55 years behind bars. They were released because of DNA evidence. What does society owe these men? Compensation is crucial, but beyond that, where’s the justice and accountability? What will it take to reform the system?

Press play to listen to “Your Call” with Rose Aguilar:

Press play to listen to “Your Call” with Rose Aguilar:


  • Seth Miller, executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida
  • James Bain was released from prison in December 2009 after serving 35 years for a crime he didn’t commit
  • Rick Walker was released from prison in 2003 after serving 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit
  • Kirk Bloodsworth was released from prison in 1993 after serving almost nine years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He spent two years on death row

Your Call is daily call-in show on KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco and 88.9 FM in Santa Cruz.

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