Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kerry Cook and the SMU screening of "The Exonerated"

On Friday night a film screening of "The Exonerated" will precede a question and answer session from a man on which one of the movie's characters was based: Kerry Max Cook, an innocent man convicted of capital murder in 1977. After spending 22 years on death row, DNA testing exonerated him from the crime.

Rick Halperin, director of the SMU Human Rights Education Program, hopes that the 2 events - both Holbrook's photographs and Cook's presentation - will "rehumanize" inmates to the public eye.

"Cook spent as much time on death row as the average college student has been alive," Halperin said.

Today Cook is an anti-death penalty activist and author of his memoir "Chasing Justice," of which he will be signing copies and selling for $15 during the film screening. Senior Savannah Engel, Human Rights Chairman for Students for a Better Society, said that Cook's case is one of

"120 people so far have been declared innocent through DNA exoneration and there are many more in prison," she said. "The issue we're looking at is our court system."

Halperin said that Cook's legal case might be "the worst case of prosecutorial misconduct in U.S. history." The human rights advocate and SMU professor will also be a panelist at Thursday's "Truth" discussion, where he hopes to educate the audience about injustices in the legal system and mistreatment of inmates.

The film "The Exonerated" and Cook's book signing is a part of the SMU Leadership and Community Involvement Social Justice Film Screening and Central University Libraries. It will take place Friday from 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Commons.

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