Why would innocent men confess? Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project Sponsors Watch Parties, Nov. 9

Who would confess to a rape-murder they didn’t commit?  The public finds false confessions hard to understand, but this phenomenon is part of about 20% of DNA exonerations.

PBS’ Frontline will examine false confessions on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 from 9:00 – 10:30 p.m. ET (check your local listings for PBS station information).  The Frontline documentary, entitled “The Confessions,” looks at the wrongful convictions of four Navy men for the rape and murder of a woman in Norfolk, VA. 

The show contains the first interviews with the Norfolk Four and details the high pressure interrogation tactics that led them to confess, including the threat of the death penalty, even though they were innocent. Last year, the Virginia Governor gave conditional pardons to, and released, three of the four men (one had already been released).

The Norfolk Four case is back in the news because Detective Glenn Ford, who secured the false confessions from the innocent men, was just convicted of taking bribes and lying to federal law enforcement.  He had previously been demoted for forcing confessions in a case unrelated to the Norfolk Four.  It is important to raise awareness about Det. Ford’s role in pursuing a case against men he knew to be innocent because the Norfolk Four are still fighting to clear their names and win their full freedom.   

The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project is sponsoring virtual watch parties for the broadcast. We encourage you to watch “The Confessions,” invite friends and family to do the same, and tweet your comments on Twitter using the hashtag #deathpenalty.  This will be a fun way to watch the show with other activists.  As important, our collective tweets will spread information about false confessions, innocence, and death penalty-related issues to our Twitter followers and the broader public. 

How do I organize a watch party? 

 It’s simple.  Invite friends over and put out the chips!  Fire up the computer and start tweeting your thoughts using the hashtag #deathpenalty.  If you are home alone, no worries!  Join other activists virtually, read and respond to tweets using #deathpenalty.

Here is a sample tweet for getting the word out: Why would innocent men confess to rape-murder? Watch “The Confessions” on Frontline 11/9 at 9 pm ET on PBS. Watch party at #deathpenalty .

Are you in?  RSVP to RCicurel@exonerate.org and let us know you’ll be watching.