Pennsylvania Innocence Project Legal Director Marissa Bluestine says a few people are convicted and imprisoned every year across the state for crimes they had nothing to do with, and her nonprofit organization is dedicated to identifying them and getting them released. She says it’s not just about the prisoners.
“It’s the public safety issue of the person who wasn’t convicted and should have been who could potentially be victimizing more people and hurting more people and spreading the circle of violence even further.”
She says sometimes innocent people confess, largely because they don’t understand the legal system.
“This is somebody who is without counsel and usually ignorant of the law, ignorant of their rights. The ironic thing is people who are innocent, who have not been through the system before, don’t know that. The person who is guilty, who has been through the system before, will lawyer up, as they say on ‘Law and Order,’ right away.”
Bluestine says people who trust the system, and believe it won’t hurt them, willingly talk to the police. She says the only ones who benefit from keeping innocent people locked up are the ones who actually committed the crimes. She appeared Wednesday on the WNPV talk program Legally Speaking.