Seminole State Speaker Series hosts The Innocence Project of Florida
Friday, October 16, 2020
Written by: Mark Richardson
PHOTO: Clockwise from top, Seminole State Psychology Professor Scott Freeman, The Innocence Project of Florida Intake Coordinator Adina M. Thompson, Ph.D, The Innocence Project of Florida Development Coordinator, Kelleigh Helm, James Bain and Nathan Myers.
The ongoing Seminole State College of Florida Speaker Series hosted its first event for the 2020-21 academic year on Thursday, Oct. 15, with a Zoom webinar panel discussion with The Innocence Project of Florida and exonerees James Bain and Nathan Myers.The Innocence Project of Florida is a nonprofit organization that works to find and free innocent people who have been wrongfully imprisoned in Florida and help them adapt to their new lives outside prison.
Seminole State Psychology Professor Scott Freeman served as the moderator for the panel discussion and representatives from the organization, Development Coordinator Kelleigh Helm, J.D., and Intake Coordinator Adina M. Thompson, Ph.D., discussed their mission of helping innocent prisoners obtain their freedom and rebuild their lives.
Exonerees Bain and Myers both shared their history, the impact of their wrongful conviction and their gratitude to The Innocence Project of Florida.
Bain was convicted of rape and kidnapping in 1974 at the age of 19 and 35 years later was exonerated through DNA evidence. He was released from prison in 2009 at the age of 54.
“I never thought I’d get out of prison and thought I would die there. I thank the team that got me out every day and thank them for never giving up on me,” said Bain.
Myers and his uncle, Clifford Williams, were wrongly convicted of first-degree murder in 1976 and spent 43 years behind bars. They were exonerated in 2019 under the state's Conviction Integrity Unit after a review by the state attorney’s office found their murder conviction fatally flawed.
“I want to thank the project. They have been with me every step of the way and I’m forever grateful,” said Myers.
They also answered questions from the audience, including what their big dreams are.
“I have nieces and nephews all over and my dream is to try and get all of them together at once so they can see me and I can see them before I leave this world,” said Myers
“To give my daughter, my son and my wife a better life than what I have,” said Bain.
Seminole State’s Speaker Series is co-sponsored by Addition Financial. All Speaker Series events are free and open to the public. The views expressed by speakers are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Seminole State College of Florida, its Board of Trustees, employees, students, alumni or partners.
The next Speaker Series event will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021 when we present, in partnership with the 32nd Annual Zora Neale Hurston™ Festival of the Arts and Humanities (ZORA!™ Festival), Dr. Regina N. Bradley, author of “Boondock Kollage: Stories from the Hip Hop South.”
Using historical, spectral and hip-hop infused fiction, Bradley will discuss the issues of race, place and identity in the post–Civil Rights American South to question the intersections of regionalism and Black culture in current American society.
For more information, please visit seminolestate.edu/speaker-series.
Each year, the Seminole State Speaker Series welcomes speakers representing diverse views and interests. The Speaker Series is co-sponsored by Addition Financial. For more information and view a list of previous speakers at Seminole State, visit seminolestate.edu/community/speakers.About the Innocence Project of Florida
The Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) is an IRS-certified 501(c)(3), non-profit organization founded in January 2003 to help innocent prisoners in Florida obtain their freedom and rebuild their lives. Our mission is to:
Screen and investigate cases in which meritorious innocence claims are identified;
Secure DNA testing when biological evidence exists;
Advocate for the release and/or exoneration of individuals whose cases present meritorious innocence claims based on evidence of actual innocence;
Provide transitional and aftercare services to exonerees; and
Advocate for necessary criminal justice reform to avoid wrongful incarcerations in the future.
Read more about IPF's key successes in criminal justice reform here.