THE INNOCENTS

Taryn Simon, Author, Taryn Simon, Photographer, Peter Neufeld, Commentaries by . Umbrage $34.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-884167-18-8

Working to free convicts who are convinced that DNA evidence would exonerate them, the Innocence Project was founded by attorneys Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck (of O.J. Simpson and nanny Louise Woodward fame) and is based at the Cardozo School of Law in New York City. The project has had a role in more than 100 overturned convictions, some of which are chronicled in Neufeld and Scheck's Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted (2000) and now in this stunning book. A Guggenheim fellow who is not yet 30, Simon photographed 39 men and one woman whose convictions have been reversed or overturned, often taking the photos at the scenes of the crimes that they did not commit. Chris Ochoa stands, hands firmly on a handrail, outside the Pizza Hut in Austin, Tex., where a woman was raped and murdered, the victim's mother by his side. Charles Irvin Fain stands in the dark on the shore of the Snake River near Melba, Idaho, where a girl was abducted and murdered, lit from behind by the headlights of his truck. Calvin Washington stands, bathed in yellow lamp light, inside cabin 24 of the C&E Motel in Waco, Tex., where an informant claimed to have heard him confess to rape and murder; Simon photographs him from outside. Most of the men wear resolute expressions; most are minorities and come from modest backgrounds. Facing the portraits, commentary on the facts of the cases by Neufeld and Scheck is complemented by comments the subjects made in interviews with Simon. As Larry Youngblood notes, "[I]t's never going to be the same. Those years are lost. You can't get them back." Simon's incisive, perfectly composed full-page portraits, reproduced in sharp, clear relief, make that hauntingly clear. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/02/2003
Release date: 09/01/2008
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