Pierce Family to match up to $15k in donations to Georgia Innocence Project in honor of Wrongful Conviction Day
Hawks Head Coach Lloyd Pierce and Wife Melissa Expand Partnership with Non-profit that Works to Correct and Prevent Wrongful Convictions in Georgia
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ATLANTA – Today, Lloyd and Melissa Pierce pledged a significant financial contribution to the Georgia Innocence Project (GIP), an independent nonprofit organization that works to correct and prevent wrongful convictions in Georgia, on Friday, Oct. 2 which marks Wrongful Conviction Day – the annual international observance dedicated to ending wrongful convictions and highlighting the plight of those convicted of crimes they did not commit. The Pierce family has committed to matching up to $15,000 of financial contributions that are donated in recognition of Wrongful Conviction Day.
Based on recent studies, it is estimated that approximately five percent of all people in prison are innocent of the crimes they are imprisoned for. For the state of Georgia, that means more than 2,000 people are currently in prison for crimes they did not commit.
“With the current climate in our country, we felt compelled to grow our partnership with GIP. In the midst of this pandemic, the need to intelligently pursue criminal justice reform and address mass incarceration issues is urgent,” Lloyd and Melissa Pierce jointly said. “The incredible level of passion, expertise and dedication to serving those wrongfully convicted independent of their personal resources and intense pursuit of justice for all makes us proud to play any role we can in bringing awareness to their work.”
Along with the Pierce family, the Atlanta Hawks created a special co-branded apparel bundle with GIP in 2019. The popular $35 bundle, which includes a t-shirt, hat and band, has been re-released and is available for purchase online at HawksShop.com with 100 percent of proceeds going directly to support the GIP until Monday, Oct. 5.
The Pierce family hosted exonerees and their family members at multiple Hawks game last season, providing exclusive access to warmups, media availabilities and locker room tours while educating fans in attendance about GIP and the exonerees. Lloyd Pierce has also served as a keynote speaker at the national Innocence Network convention.
Pierce will also appear alongside Jimmie C. Gardner, a GIP board member who was wrongfully convicted for 27 years, and Melissa Redmon, the Director of UGA School of Law's Prosecutorial Justice Program, this Friday at 4 p.m. ET during the first-ever Wrongful Conviction Day livestream this Friday for "Race & Wrongful Conviction: Moving from Outrage to Action," a conversation about the intersection of wrongful conviction and the Movement for Black Lives.
“We are so grateful to the Pierce family for this generous gift, especially ahead of Wrongful Conviction Day,” said Georgia Innocence Project Executive Director Clare Gilbert. “In this critical moment of reckoning and reform–as COVID-19 ravages Georgia’s prisons–the work is more pressing than ever, and the continued partnership of Coach Pierce and the Atlanta Hawks significantly increases awareness and helps drive change around wrongful convictions in Georgia.”
Georgia Innocence Project provides free legal representation to people in Georgia who have been convicted of serious crimes that they did not commit. GIP also works to prevent future wrongful convictions by raising awareness through education and by advocating for policy and legislative reform.
To learn more about the Georgia Innocence Project and Wrongful Conviction Day, please visit georgiainnocenceproject.org.