(Memphis, Tenn.) — The Tennessee Innocence Project (TIP) formed as a statewide non-profit in 2019. Since its founding the organization has exonerated four individuals, who spent a total of 95 years in prison, wrongfully imprisoned. On Thursday, September 22, 2022, the organization will host its first event in Memphis to shine a spotlight on wrongful convictions. The guest speaker will be Mr. Anthony Ray Hinton and the event will be held at the National Civil Rights Museum.
In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton, was mowing his front yard in Birmingham, Alabama when police arrested him, charging the then, 29-year old black man with two counts of murder, crimes he did not commit. He survived on death row for nearly 30 years before finally being exonerated in 2015. Since his release, Hinton has traveled the world sharing his story and discussing the changes that need to be made to prevent similar injustices from happening to others.
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, there have been more than 3,100 wrongful convictions since 1989. Tennessee has seen only 30 exonerations – five from Shelby County. Jessica Van Dyke is the Executive Director and Lead Counsel for the Tennessee Innocence Project. “We are proud of our successes, but we know there is still significant work to be done across the state, and especially in Shelby County,” said Van Dyke. “For our current clients, as well as their families, we often represent their last hope for regaining the life that was taken due to a wrongful conviction.”
The event will include a 45-minute presentation in which Hinton will share his journey to exoneration and freedom, followed by a 15-minute question and answer session. In 2018, Hinton published, “The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row,” which was selected for Oprah’s Book Club and is a New York Times bestseller. Copies of Hinton’s book will be available for purchase from the Museum’s store. The presentation is free and open to the public and starts at 7 p.m.
The Tennessee Innocence Project will also host a meet & greet reception before Hinton’s presentation at 6 p.m. The organization does not charge clients for their services and depends on funds from community support to support this important mission. Tickets to the reception are $100, and the ticket holder will receive reserved priority seating for the presentation and a signed copy of Hinton’s memoir. This event is supported by Horizon Companies, JustCity, The Carter Malone Group, LLC, The Downtown Commission, Lee Investigative Services, LLC and Josie Holland. Sponsorship opportunities for the event are still available. Tickets are sold online, and RSVPs for the presentation are highly encouraged at www.tninnocence.org/events.