The Alaska Innocence Project (AKIP) is an Alaska-based non-profit corporation that provides legal, educational, and charitable services to identify and exonerate individuals who have been wrongfully convicted in the state of Alaska, and to provide educational opportunities that foster a culture that champions the defense of the innocent.
AKIP became pivotal in the release of four Alaskans who’d served 18 years in jail after being convicted of murdering another teen in Fairbanks in 1997. In
2013, AKIP filed court documents citing new evidence suggesting the four who were convicted of the deadly beating were innocent; the Alaska Department of Law ordered an independent review of the case.
That review lead to a negotiated settlement, and the Fairbanks Four were free, with their convictions set aside.
“It was what we were looking for from the very start,” Bill Oberly, executive director of the Alaska Innocence Project, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on December 17, 2015, the day the four were freed. “The convictions are done away with. They have no convictions and they’re free.”
On today’s Justice Alaska on Hometown Alaska, Oberly and a pro bono Fairbanks Four defense team member, Bob Bundy, tell the story of the “Fairbanks Four,” including lessons learned. Oberly and Bundy identify common elements that show up in some wrongful convictions—from jail house confessions and eyewitness accounts that don’t stand up, to interrogations of minors and inebriated individuals.
Oberly will also describe a new grant AKIP is about to receive to review settled cases among Alaska Natives, looking for the potential of wrongful convictions.
Your questions and comments are welcome throughout the program.
HOST: Kathleen McCoy
- Bill Oberly, executive director of the Alaska Innocence Project
- Bob Bundy, attorney in private practice, a pro bono member of the ‘Fairbanks Four’ defense team
- Alaska Innocence Project website
- UAA Justice Center, ‘Fairbanks Four’ panel discussion, 2016
- ‘Decade of Doubt,’ 7-part series on ‘Fairbanks Four’ Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Part 1, July 6, 2008
- “A Cry in the Night, Part 2 of series, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, July 7, 2008.
- Fairbanks Four freed as judge accepts deal to throw out indictments, convictions, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Dec. 17, 2015
- Free the Fairbanks Four blog, begins Nov. 20, 2011
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- LIVE: Monday, January 14, 2019 at 2:00 p.m.
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