The Innocence Project will receive the Eugene V. Debs Award on October 23, 2021 at 3:00 pm Eastern Time. Our first-ever virtual Award ceremonies will stream on this page as well as Facebook and Youtube. Christina Swarns, Executive Director of the Innocence Project, will accept the Award and offer remarks. Acclaimed musician and activist Bucky Halker will provide musical selections, a traditional element of the Debs Award ceremonies.
The Debs Foundation celebrates the Innocence Project’s extraordinary efforts which have contributed to the exoneration of more than 230 innocent people through DNA testing and by other means. In addition to freeing the innocent, the Innocence Project works continually to address the key causes of wrongful convictions and to prevent future injustices through the courts, the legal system and legislatures throughout the country. Its social work department also provides support to exonerees as they rebuild their lives post-release.
The connections between the Debs Foundation and the Innocence Project are profound. Gene Debs had deep personal experiences during his incarceration. He was imprisoned first in Woodstock, Illinois, for leading the Pullman Strike of 1894 and again decades later in the Atlanta Federal Prison for speaking out against the role of the U.S. in the First World War, sentences many would say were unjust. While in the Atlanta Prison, he ran for President of the United States on the Socialist Party ticket and received nearly a million votes. After Debs’ death, his family published Walls and Bars, a collection of essays exposing the conditions and injustices of the U.S. penal system of a hundred years ago. Debs was keenly sympathetic to the plight of those oppressed by the injustices of incarceration. The Innocence Project carries forward the humanism and compassion of Debs as an essential component in today’s struggle to ensure justice for all. More information about its work is available on its excellent website, innocenceproject.org.
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