September 16th, 2014
Our Evening on the Cape with NEIP and Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod was an extraordinary success! This was the first of what we plan to make an annual fundraising event, and we could not have done it without help from our staff, board members, volunteers, and contributors! The weather was perfect, and the food from Terra Luna and local oyster farmers Jason, Elizabeth and Baby Leif was delightful. Guests sampled wines from Truro’s award-winning vineyard, including the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Rosé, as well as cocktails featuring Truro’s own Twenty Boat Spiced Rum. Local harpist Kurt Reynolds provided lovely background music all evening, making it a night that truly exemplified the best of what Cape Cod has to offer. Not to be lost amid the simple enjoyment of the evening, was the recognition of NEIP’s mission – that no one person in New England should ever be in prison for a crime they did not commit.
The program began with an introduction by Stephanie Roberts-Hartung, a professor at Suffolk Law and trustee on NEIP’s board. Stephanie gave us the pleasure of recounting her personal experience as a public defender with an innocent client, and how the advances made by the Innocence Project gave her the tools to prevent his conviction. Rob Feldman, one of the founders of NEIP, presented fellow board member and colleague Joe Savage with the first ever Savage Award. The award, named for Joe himself, will be presented annually to a person who has significantly advanced the cause of the wrongfully convicted.
But the most striking example of the importance of our work came from the words of exoneree Dennis Maher. Dennis was convicted of rape in the early 1980s, when many of the factors that give rise to wrongful convictions, such as faulty eyewitness protocols, poor defense lawyering, and lack of DNA testing were still prevalent. In his own words he described the details of his arrest, prosecution, and nearly twenty years of wrongful imprisonment. His ability to forgive, and go on to restart his life was exemplified when his speech culminated in an embrace with his lovely wife Melissa, and their two children.
We at NEIP truly believe that the event was a success in all aspects. We enjoyed being able to connect with our guests, and promote our mission to fight for the freedom of those who have been wrongfully convicted using advancements in DNA testing and evidence retention. We sincerely hope you can join us next year for An Evening on the Cape with NEIP and Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod. And be on the look out for upcoming events with NEIP, including our Running for Innocence campaign in November!