A Court TV movie “The Exonerated,” set to air tonight, says it tells the stories of six innocent people sentenced to death for murder and later released after evidence of their innocence was found. USA Today quotes the narrator as saying that the film – which features Susan Sarandon, Aidan Quinn, Danny Glover, and Brian Dennehy – is “true” because “every word was taken directly from a court document, deposition, testimony or letters.”
Prosecutors from two cases portrayed say that describing the convicts they dealt with as “innocent” or “exonerated” is false. Michael Satz of Broward County, Fla., and David Dobbs of Tyler, Texas, say the movie’s producers ignored plea bargains, witness statements, and transcripts of police interrogations that cast significant doubt on the innocence claims of Sonia Jacobs, a Florida woman who was convicted of killing two police officers, and Kerry Max Cook, a Texas man who was convicted of mutilating a neighbor. The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), an anti-capital punishment group, says it does not consider Jacobs or Cook innocent because both accepted plea bargains. Prosecutors say that some people like Jacobs and Cook are released for reasons other than innocence. They say that overstating innocence claims undermines public confidence in law enforcement. “It’s like dripping water. The idea is to wear down the reputation of all prosecutors, one drop at a time,” said Tom Charron, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association.