Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Criminal Justice

Content Description

1 online resource (vii, 326 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

James R Acker

Committee Members

Allison D Redlich, Frankie Y Bailey, Richard A Leo


cause lawyer, civil rights, innocence, miscarriage of justice, social movement, wrongful conviction, Judicial error, False imprisonment, Post-conviction remedies, Criminal justice, Administration of

Subject Categories

Criminology | Law | Sociology


Few issues have captivated the criminal justice world in recent years like wrongful convictions. An advocacy network has developed around the United States, responsible for exonerating more than 1,500 individuals and successfully passing reforms at all levels of criminal justice policy and practice. This "innocence movement" has been described as a "revolution" and a "new civil rights movement," yet has rarely been examined in-depth by scholars. In this dissertation, I explore the history and theoretical underpinnings of the movement through interviews with 37 actors involved in innocence work, archival materials, and observational research. I draw on the rich body of theoretical literature from socio-legal scholarship and the study of social movements to explore this historical development, discuss how and why it occurred, critically evaluate its status as a social movement, and offer thoughts on the future of the innocence movement in the United States.