True crime continues to be one of the most fascinating genres of our time and with the inception of streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Stan, there are now more ways than ever to watch stories of criminal activity.
The latest offering from Netflix — who brought us the craziest docu-series of the year, Tiger King — a new documentary series called The Innocence Files tells the story of three different men, Franky Carrillo, Kennedy Brewer and Chester Hollman, all who have been convicted of crimes they did not commit.
Carillo was just 16-years-old when he was arrested (while doing homework) for a drive-by murder in California, while Brewer was sentenced to death for the abduction, assault and murder of his girlfriend’s three-year-old daughter in Mississippi. Holman, was just 21 when he was arrested for driving a rental car, similar to the getaway car used in a nearby murder in Philadelphia.
After being convicted, each man was incarcerated for decades until The Innocence Project, a New York-based non-profit founded by lawyers Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, worked to set them free.
These men, along with many others, reflect on their stories in the new series, shining a light on the corrupt and unreliable criminal justice system in America.
In three different parts, it highlights prominent causes for the injustices: misuse of forensic evidence (“junk science”), false eyewitness accounts and prosecutorial misconduct.
The “CSI effect” or “junk science” section looks at the fact that bite-marks or blood-spatter seems to be airtight, however, nearly half of the cases involved misapplied forensics.
“How can something be debunked and still admissible?” asked Roger Ross Williams, director of three of the episodes. “That’s because it’s a can of worms. If states actually had to throw out bite-mark evidence, then they would have a duty to correct, and that would be a huge problem for these criminal justice systems.”
In an interview with The Guardian, executive producer Alex Gibney said that the US has an “adversarial legal system where the whole idea is to win, and each side stepping up the plate against each other”.
“The problem becomes that it becomes all about winning rather than finding the truth or real justice.”
Since 1989, there have been 2,578 exonerations in the US.
Catch The Innocence Files on Netflix, streaming now.
WATCH: The Official Trailer of Netflix Series The Innocence Files.