After Innocence


Top 20% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2005 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Documentary Competition

Non-Cast Credits

Jessica Sanders, Marc Simon, Shana Hagan, Buddy Squires, Brian Johnson, Charles Bernstein


Employing a brisk narrative style, fluid editing, barely subdued outrage, and an articulate cast of characters, director Jessica Sanders examines not just the flood of reversed convictions that DNA evidence has visited upon a grievously flawed criminal-justice system but also what happens to those exonerated once they have been set free. COnsidered an embarrassment to prosecutors' offices, a potential burden to state legislatures, and a walking indictment of mismanaged or corrupt police work, the men whose innocence is established -- mostly in rape and murder cases, where DNA evidence actually exists -- have to pick up and cary on with even less government support than that given guilty prisoners out on parole.

Some of those profiled by Sanders in After Innocence seem to accept their fate without bitterness. Others, including a former police officer and death row inmate, are understandably shattered by their experiences. But none exhibit the pure anger that one expects from people who have been subjected, in some cases, to more than 20 years of unwarranted, unjust imprisonment. One cannot help but be moved by this powerful and haunting documentary, which offers a searing critique of a system that fails the innocent not only once, but twice.


Diane Weyermann (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.