". . . a stunning FRONTLINE documentary about men convicted of murder and other
serious crimes being later exonerated by DNA evidence. . . Another fine film
from Ofra Bikel, 'The Case for Innocence'. . . is a compelling argument against
capital punishment. It also indicts politicians who appear willing to
sacrifice possibly innocent lives as scapegoats on behalf of pleasing the
"The advent of DNA testing held out the promise of definitive proof of
innocence against charges of rape. . . But as "The Case for Innocence,"
tonight's disturbing "Frontline" report, demonstrates, many of those who come
through the test successfully do not find freedom. . ."
"[Producer Ofra] Bikel relies for exasperated criticism of the law's workings
or nonworkings on Barry Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld. . . Ms. Bikel persuaded
Mr. Scheck to come to the aid of Clyde Charles [who was released in December,
1999]. . .
"The publicity that greeted Illinois' recent string of DNA-fueled Death Row
exonerations would have you believe that exculpatory evidence from the double
helix is society's Get Out of Jail Free card. It ain't so, say FRONTLINE and
producer Ofra Bikel in this wrenching 90 minutes. . . Bikel, who has done
exceptional work for PBS current-events documentary series on the country's
child sexual abuse witch hunts, here details another situation that suggests
prosecutorial power could stand more checks and balances. . .
"Bikel's overall argument, examples, and theories are more complicated than I
have space to get into here. This is an area where new and powerful forensic
technology meets a similarly powerful political desire to give criminal
defendants no quarter, all against the dark backdrop of state-sanctioned
killing represented by the death penalty. . . But the big picture she paints
is, if she has not distorted it in some way that is not evident, deeply
"FRONTLINE's formidable Ofra Bikel again casts light on a shocking miscarriage
of justice, examining why inmates remain behind bars. . . despite DNA evidence.
. . The explanations given by the prosecutors and the courts suggest a
partnership of Kafka and Lewis Carroll."
"An outrage-inspiring FRONTLINE report . . .Producer Ofra Bikel's calm
assiduousness only makes the plight of the condemned men profiled - likely
victims of racism and circumstance - that much more urgent and poignant."
"The founders of the United States of America. . . feared that they had left
too much power in the hands of government. . . the founders were right to
worry, and after watching 'The Case for Innocence,' you may wonder whether the
Bill of Rights is protection enough."
"Getting angry at television can be awful. . . But getting angry because TV
informs you, stimulates you, teaches or alerts you is a whole other matter.
That's the kind of television producer Ofra Bikel makes - crucial,
well-researched, astutely reported, real-life television about the injustices,
inequities, and inhumanity of our much-vaunted criminal justice system. . .
"Bikel's new documentary, 'The Case for Innocence,' will make you boil. . .
[It] is thornier [than Bikel's earlier, 'Innocence Lost']. It deals with the
increasingly unavailable or intransigent appeals process."
"Our (in)justice system goes under the microsope on tonight's FRONTLINE report
and the results are truly ugly. After watching 'A Case for Innocence,' you
wonder how many innocent people are sitting in prison because of sloppy police
work, bloodthirsty prosecutors and indifferent judges. . .
"The show also serves as a good argument for slowing down the rush to limit
legal appeals, particularly in death-penalty cases. . .
"As usual, the FRONTLINE reporting is solid and, if it leans toward an advocacy
position, it's never heavy handed. . ."
"It was the luck of the draw for Clyde Charles. His letter lay amid hundreds
of pleas that the New York-based Innocence Project had passed on to PBS
FRONTLINE investigative TV series. Ofra Bikel. . .plucked it from the stack of
pleas from inmates claiming a genetic test would free them. . . Nearly a year
later, Charles was freed from the Louisiana State Penitentiary. . .
"Bikel, who won kudos for her documentary "Innocence Lost: The Plea" about
sexual abuse charges in a North Carolina day care center, said she is
mesmerized by issues of modern justice that sometimes lag behind the emergence
"[Roy] Criner has remained in jail despite two DNA tests in the past three
years that refute the testimony that convicted him. . . When FRONTLINE
reporters interview Texas state officials, including Judge Sharon Keller, who
wrote the appellate court's rejection of Criner's appeal, they simply shrug off
the DNA results as compelling, but not compelling enough. . .Sadder still is
the refusal of many prosecutors to reopen cases after DNA evidence shows the
wrong person has been jailed. . .
"One prominent governor, George W. Bush, could make a particularly meaningful
contribution by looking into the Roy Criner case. True, Bush has a lot on his
mind these days. But he does call himself a 'compassionate conservative.'
Talk is cheap. Actions speak."
speaking out ·
total system failure? ·
how far will it go? ·
tapes & transcripts ·
web site copyright 1995-2014
WGBH educational foundation