UNLOCKING THE FUTURE
2023 In Review
Milestone events are opportunities to reflect on what has been and what will be. This year brought a huge milestone: 2023 marked the Innocence Project of Florida’s 20th year of finding and freeing the wrongfully convicted and helping these men and women rebuild their lives in freedom. Since its inception in 2003, IPF has helped secure the freedom of 30 individuals who have spent a collective 647 years wrongfully incarcerated.
As we celebrate IPF’s 20th birthday, each client freed reminds us of the hundreds of birthdays they collectively missed celebrating with their families and the anniversaries that never were because of the missed opportunities to make meaningful, long-lasting relationships due to wrongful incarceration. As we look forward, IPF is hyper focused on our dozens of clients who are still wrongfully incarcerated and those we have not found yet, who still are celebrating birthdays while burdened by continued wrongful incarceration.
It is with this focus that IPF is embarking on substantial strategic growth of the organization to expand our capacity to better meet the needs of those wrongfully incarcerated. This means hiring more lawyers, investigators, critical legal staff and social workers to find and free more innocent people and have greater ability to transform their lives for the better after release. To kickstart this growth ,Dr. Sarah H. Pappas, one IPF’s great supporters from Sarasota, Florida, has established the Dr.Sarah H. Pappas Fund for Innocence, a substantial matching fund to increase IPF’s capacity to find and free innocent men and women in Florida’s prisons.
As we close out 2023 and our 20th year, we have a goal to raise $125,000 and every dollar raised as part of this year-end campaign will be fully matched by the Pappas Fund for Innocence. Contribute today to double your impact and help us find and free even more innocent Floridians in the next 20 years.
Cornelius Marion (r) with IPF's Seth Miller in Tampa in May 2023.
Sidney Holmes stands in front of his new car near his home in Riverview in October 2023.
In February, IPF achieved Cornelius Marion’s release after 33 years of wrongful incarceration. He was wrongfully convicted of a Tampa armed robbery based solely on a single unreliable eyewitness identification and sentenced to life in prison.
Just a month later in March, IPF freed Sidney Holmes after 34 years of wrongful incarceration, after he was wrongfully convicted of a Ft. Lauderdale armed robbery also based on a single unreliable eyewitness identification and sentenced to 400 years in prison.
Both Cornelius and Sidney faced a prosecution based on scant evidence and both had solid alibis that the authorities just refused to believe. And in both, we were able to swiftly rectify the cases without endless litigation and bring each of them and their families justice through a cooperation from the conviction integrity units in the respective prosecutors’ offices.Cornelius and Sidney lost a combined 67 of the best years of their lives, and IPF has provided substantial necessary support to each to aide in their reintegration back into a society that has changed so much since their wrongful convictions.
We couldn't have achieved the things we have this year without critical advocacy, funding and support from individuals like you. Your compassion and investment in our work allows us to bring more wrongfully convicted people home from prison each year. Thank you.
TRIUMPHS OF 2023
This milestone for IPF also coincides with the tragic death of our former client Leonard Cure. Lenny, as we knew him, was wrongfully convicted of a Broward County armed robbery in 2003 and we were able to free him with the help of the Broward County Conviction Review Unit in 2020 after more than 16 years of wrongful incarceration. He lost 16 birthdays with his family and only had 3 more in freedom before he was shot during a police traffic stop in October. Lenny was part of our IPF family. While his death has lefta hole in our collective hearts, it has refocused our efforts on helping all of our freed clients address the trauma resulting from wrongful incarceration so they can heal and live the happy, healthy, and safe lives they deserve.