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.
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 Law Project of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. She would dedicate nearly a decade working to help 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 to work the Irish Innocence Project 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 Irish Innocence Project at Griffith College, and oversaw program activities.
With her arrival, the IIP at Griffith College became only the second of the 68 certified innocence programs worldwide that are recognized by the Innocence Network to have both law and journalism students investigating wrongful conviction cases. Driscoll drew on her own personal experiences working for People magazine and as a journalist in the Justice Brandeis Law Project when instructing student volunteers how to dig for the evidence project lawyers would need to prove the innocence of a wrongfully convicted person. By their very nature in exposing mistakes or sometimes misconduct, innocence programs are sometimes unpopular with judicial, law enforcement, and sometimes other government agencies. Investigators carry out their work sometimes while risking personal peril.
Anne worked with Irish Innocence Project at Griffith College director David Langwallner and student caseworker Tertius Van Eeden to help bring to fruition the ongoing effort to exonerate the name of Irish citizen Harry Gleeson, wrongfully convicted and hanged for murder in 1941.
Drawing on her communications and media background (The Boston Globe, People magazine), Anne publicized the work of the Irish Innocence Project at Griffith College, 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.