News/Media

NEW AUDIOBOOK FEATURING AWARD-WINNING ARTISTS HONORS
INTERNATIONAL WRONGFUL CONVICTION DAY

SAN JOSE – (October 4, 2016) – In observance of International Wrongful Conviction Day, the authors of the highly acclaimed Pruno, Ramen, and a Side of Hope: Stories of Surviving Wrongful Conviction announced their book will soon be available as an audiobook featuring the voices of several award-winning celebrities.

Pruno, Ramen and a Side of Hope is a collection of stories by and about men and women who were wrongfully convicted and exonerated. The Pruno Audiobook features artists such as Whoopi Goldberg, Ashley Judd, Bill Kurtis, Ricki Lake, Laraine Newman, and Wren T. Brown, who recount those stories of tragedy, hope, and redemption.

“We are grateful that such an extremely talented group of professionals lent their voices to the audiobook,” said co-author Nikki Pope. “They are helping raise awareness of wrongful convictions, and raising awareness is the first step in the fight to end wrongful convictions.”

The incomparable Whoopi Goldberg promotes understanding of the issue by narrating Sabrina Butler-Porter’s story. Butler-Porter was a young black woman in Mississippi who was wrongfully convicted of murdering her baby and, after a one-week trial and brief deliberation, was sentenced to death. Butler-Porter’s first-person account of the tragedy is told by renowned actress LisaGay Hamilton. Singer/songwriter/producer, John Forte, voices the perspective of Joe Porter, Sabrina’s husband. Sabrina’s is a story of despair and joy; rebirth and redemption.

Butler-Porter’s story is available as a sample CD to raise awareness about the tragedy of innocent people on death row in prisons across the country. To request a review copy, members of the press and media should send an email to promocd@prunoproject.com.

The complete Pruno Audiobook will be available at online retailers later this month. The print version of Pruno, Ramen and a Side of Hope is available now at online retailers.

About the Authors. Courtney Lance is an audit professional at the real estate firm Draper & Kramer, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois. Courtney is a director of Life After Justice, an organization that helps ex-convicts re-enter society after release from prison. Nikki Pope is an attorney at Cooley LLP in Palo Alto, California. Her practice focuses on public company corporate governance and counseling nonprofit organizations. Nikki is a director of Moving Train, Inc., a nonprofit organization providing fiscal sponsorship for documentary and narrative films. Nikki and Courtney founded The Pruno Project to share the stories of the wrongfully convicted and to generate income for exonerees who receive little or no compensation from the states that wrongfully convicted them. Pruno, Ramen, and a Side of Hope is their first book.

About The Pruno Project. The Pruno Project is dedicated to raising awareness about the problem of wrongful conviction. Its mission is to give voice to the wrongfully convicted by telling their stories. Most of the royalties received from the sale of Pruno’s projects go back to the exonerees whose stories are being told and to organizations that assist the wrongfully convicted, like Exonerated Nation, an organization that helps innocent men and women re-enter society after their exoneration and release from prison. For more information, please visit www.prunoproject.com.

Contact: Nikki Pope at nikki@prunoproject.com for more information or to schedule interviews with the authors or exoneree contributors.


Margaret Lavin: Northern California Innocence Project Celebrates Justice for All

By Margaret Lavin, San Mateo County Times

San Mateo – (March 25, 2015) – On March 12, the Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) honored individuals for their exceptional dedication to freeing the wrongfully convicted and reforming the criminal justice system. The evening showcased the inspiring stories of those who fought to regain their freedom with the help of NCIP and their pro bono partners and donors.

NCIP’s mission is to promote a fair, effective and compassionate criminal justice system and protect the rights of the innocent.

The Leadership Award was presented to Sen. Mark Leno. In 2014, Leno authored legislation that helps keep innocent Californians out of prison. Senate Bill 1058, which was sponsored by the NCIP and the California Innocence Project, allows a judge to determine that a wrongful conviction has occurred if expert testimony provided during a trial served as the primary basis for an incarcerated person’s conviction and has subsequently been retracted or disproven by scientific or technological advances.

The Justice Award was presented to Craig Watkins. Watkins was elected District Attorney of Dallas County in 2006, becoming the first African-American district attorney in Texas. His internationally recognized Conviction Integrity unit reviewed more than 400 cases and became the model of integrity in prosecution throughout the nation, with 34 exonerations.

The Media Award went to Nikki Pope and Courtney Lance, co-authors of Pruno, Ramen, and a Side of Hope. The book is a collection of stories from wrongfully convicted people who eventually proved their innocence. Pope is an SCU Law Alumna and attorney with the law firm of Cooley, LLP in Northern California. Lance is an audit professional with the real estate firm of Draper and Kramer in Chicago. From Pruno, Ramen, and a Side of Hope: “Our procedure has always been haunted by the ghost of the innocent man convicted. It’s an unreal dream,” Judge Learned Hand (1923). “Sadly and tragically, his unreal dream has been shattered by the truth of more than 1,480 known wrongful convictions in the United States since just 1989 — the era of criminal justice that is defined by the emergence of DNA testing.”

Elliot Peters was the recipient of this year’s Pro Bono Award. Peters and his team at Keker & Van Nest, LLP spent countless pro bono hours and resources working to exonerate the innocent. “These cases are so hard to win, but they are so important. There is nothing nobler or more righteous for a lawyer to do, and nothing in my career that I am more proud of, than fighting for the innocent,” He said. “Please everyone, give to the NCIP, support their work and keep the faith. There are innocent people suffering behind bars, and as long as that is true, we must never, ever give up the fight.”

Peters’ everyday law practice requires him to represent clients in some of the most high-stakes commercial and criminal matters nationwide.

Having tried more that 50 cases over the past three decades, he has built a reputation for protecting clients when colossal damages, reputations and freedom hang in the balance.

Kirk Bloodsworth was the first death row inmate exonerated based on DNA testing and was this year’s recipient of the Cookie Ridolfi Freedom Award. “I became the first person in the United States freed by postconviction DNA testing. My mother passed away five months before I got out,” said exoneree Bloodsworth. “My mom wasn’t around but she’s the one who told me to stand up — stand up — right is light. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. And that’s exactly what I did.”

After reading a book by Joseph Wambaugh called “The Blooding”, Bloodsworth had the DNA tested in his case — DNA evidence that was found to be in his trial judge’s closet in a paper bag. The tests incontrovertibly established his innocence, and he was released in June 1993. Kirk has been an ardent supporter of the Innocence Protection Act since its passage by Congress in February 2000.

For more information on NCIP, visit http://law.scu.edu/ncip/.

Contact Margaret Lavin at elementarydays@gmail.com.