the case for innocence
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Press Reaction
Howard Rosenberg, Los Angeles Times

". . . 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 tough-on-crime crowd."

Walter Goodman, The New York Times

"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]. . .

Steve Johnson, Chicago Tribune

"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 disturbing. ."

The Wall Street Journal

"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."

Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly

"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."

Eric Mink, New York Daily News

"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."

Kinney Littlefield, Orange County Register

"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."

Marc Allan, Indianapolis Star

"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. . ."

Rhonda Bell, New Orleans Times-Picayune

"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 of technology."

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune

"[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."

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