Monday, 27 January 2014

The Innocents by Taryn Simon

 The Innocents by Taryn Simon

The Innocents documents the stories of individuals who served time in prison for violent crimes they did not commit. At issue is the question of photography's function as a credible eyewitness and arbiter of justice.

The primary cause of wrongful conviction is mistaken identification. A victim or eyewitness identifies a suspected perpetrator through law enforcement's use of photographs and lineups. This procedure relies on the assumption of precise visual memory. But, through exposure to composite sketches, mugshots, Polaroids, and lineups, eyewitness memory can change. In the history of these cases, photography offered the criminal justice system a tool that transformed innocent citizens into criminals. Photographs assisted officers in obtaining eyewitness identifications and aided prosecutors in securing convictions.

Simon photographed these men at sites that had particular significance to their illegitimate conviction: the scene of misidentification, the scene of arrest, the scene of the crime or the scene of the alibi. All of these locations hold contradictory meanings for the subjects. The scene of arrest marks the starting point of a reality based in fiction. The scene of the crime is at once arbitrary and crucial: this place, to which they have never been, changed their lives forever. In these photographs Simon confronts photography's ability to blur truth and fiction-an ambiguity that can have severe, even lethal consequences.

Calvin Washinton C&E Motel, Room No. 24, Waco, Texas
Where an informant claimed to have heard Washington confess
Served 13 years of a Life sentence for Capital Murder, 2002
Larry Youngblood Alibi location, Tucson, Arizona
With Alice Laitner, Youngblood's girlfriend and alibi witness at trial
Served 8 years of a 10.5 year sentence for Sexual Assault, Kidnapping and Child Molestation, 2002
Ron Williamson Baseball field, Norman, Oklahoma
Williamson has been drafted by the Oakland Athletics before being sentenced to death
Served 11 years of a death sentence for First Degree Murder, 2002
Charles Irvin Fain Scene of the crime, the snake River, Melba, Idaho
Served 18 years of a death sentence for Kidnapping, Rape and murder, 2002
Charles Irvin Fain Scene of the crime, the snake River, Melba, Idaho
Served 18 years of a death sentence for Kidnapping, Rape and murder, 2002
Tim Durham Skeet shooting, Tulsa, Oklahoma
11 alibi witnesses placed Durham at a skeet-shooting competition at the time of the crime
Served 3.5 years of a 3,220 year sentence for Rape and Robbery, 2002
Frederick Daye Alibi location, American Legion Post 310, San Diego, California
Where 13 witnesses placed Daye at the time of the crime
Served 10 years of a life sentence for Kidnapping, RApe and Vehicle Theft, 2002

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