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Tavis Smiley profiles four exonerated men

PR Newswire | 6/27/2011, 1:09 p.m.

LOS ANGELES, Calif.--Tavis Smiley sits down with four wrongfully-convicted men who, despite their innocence, spent more than a combined 50 years in prison. The conversation airs nationwide on the award-winning PBS program Tavis Smiley this Thursday and Friday.

Recorded during Rainbow/PUSH Coalition's 40th anniversary conference, Smiley is also joined by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson.

A recent study by the Better Government Association, finds that 85 people wrongfully convicted in Illinois spent a total of 926 years in prison. These 85 wrongful convictions cost Illinois' taxpayers 214 million dollars.

Smiley talks with four men who are a part of those statistics. Johnnie Savory was convicted at the age of 14 for a double murder. After spending 30 years in prison and now on parole, he is still not fully exonerated by the state. Marcus Lyons, a military veteran with no previous record, was found guilty of a rape he did not commit and served three years of a six year sentence.

Gordon Steidl spent 12 years on death row for murders he did not commit before winning a motion for a new trial in 2003. Ken Berry was convicted and sentenced to 35 years for kidnapping and sexual assault. He won a new trial because his lawyer failed to call witnesses who could have exonerated him.

To learn more about the four men, Illinois' Innocence Project and Tavis Smiley on PBS, visit www.pbs.org/tavis.