Long-time Swampscott resident Anne Driscoll is being honored for her contributions to the wrongful conviction effort. In the universe of human rights and social justice, one of the least served populations are the thousands and thousands of prisoners around the world who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit.
Driscoll will be given the Salem Award at a ceremony on Sunday, March 20, 2016 at the Bridge at 211 in Salem, MA. At that time, two yet to be named high school students will be bestowed with the Rising Leader award. A public reception at 3:00 pm and the awards ceremony at 4:00 pm will be held at the Bridge at 211 (thebridge211.org). The Bridge at 211 is entered at 20-28 Federal Street. A private reception will be held at 5:30 pm at the nearby Turner’s Seafood Restaurant at 43 Church Street, Salem.
The mission of the Salem Award Foundation (SAF) is to keep alive the lessons of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and to make known and honor the heroic work of those who speak out and take action to alleviate discrimination, promote tolerance, and achieve justice for contemporary victims of social injustice. The SAF is an all-volunteer organization almost 100% dependent on individual contributions. To learn more about this event and the work of the Salem Award Foundation for Human Rights and Social Justice, please go to: www.salemaward.org
Background on Anne Driscoll
Anne Driscoll has been working to overturn wrongful convictions since 2006. That year, the trained/licensed social worker and working journalist joined the Justice Brandeis Project at Brandeis University. She would dedicate nearly a decade working to free Angel Echavarria of Lynn who was serving a life sentence for a 1994 murder he did not commit.
In 2013, Ms. Driscoll was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and moved to the Irish Innocence Project (IIP) at Griffith College that was started by attorney David Langwallner in 2009. Driscoll was not a lawyer, but she was a seasoned investigative journalist with a social service and family court background. The former had particular significance.
Ms. Driscoll relocated to Dublin in September and implemented the “radical” curriculum she had outlined in her Fulbright application. She personally taught investigative journalism techniques to law and journalism students who were also volunteer case workers in the IIP at Griffith College, and oversaw program activities.
With her arrival, the IIP at Griffith College became only the second of the 68 certified innocence projects worldwide to train their volunteers as investigators. Driscoll drew on her own personal experiences working for People magazine and as a “reporter” in the Justice Brandeis project when instructing student volunteers how to dig for the evidence project lawyers would need to prove the innocence of a wrongfully convicted “client.” By their very nature, Innocence Projects are very unpopular with judicial, law enforcement, and sometimes other government agencies. Investigators carry out their work while risking personal peril.
Anne brought to fruition the ongoing effort by the Irish Innocence Project to exonerate the name of Irish citizen Harry Gleeson, wrongfully convicted and hanged for murder 72 years ago. Plans are in the works to make a major motion picture about the Gleeson case.
Drawing on her communications and media background (The Boston Globe, People magazine), Anne publicized the work of the Irish Innocence Project, the Justice Brandeis Law Project and the issue of wrongful convictions worldwide through numerous appearances on television and radio; extensive coverage in traditional print media; and Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, websites, etc. Her work to publicize Angel Echavarria’s exoneration resulted in more than 200 articles in one day. As a result of her own social service training and experience, Anne imbued her volunteers with an understanding of, and respect for, the emotional trauma that impacts wrongful conviction victims and their loved ones.