The Innocent Man is a new Netflix documentary based on the non-fiction book by John Grisham. Season 1 focuses on two crimes from the early 1980s – and several innocent men. True crime fans should love it!
The Innocent Man is a Netflix documentary along the lines of Making a Murderer. I really loved Making a Murderer, but I do enjoy the fact that this new series is quite a bit shorter.
Season 1 consists of just 6 episodes with runtimes around 40-50 minutes. Very easy to binge-watch!
During the 6 episodes, two crimes (both involving rape and murder) in a small town in Oklahoma is the focus. The crimes happened in December of 1982 and April of 1984.
Nothing links the two at first glance except for one thing; The same police detective and prosecutor are attempting to solve both cases. Or rather, finding someone to pin a guilty sentence on.
Families of the accused and victims
The police officers and prosecutors working both crimes do manage to find several guilty people. However, the manner in which they accomplish this is by using some rather creative tactics.
They manage to get guilty convictions in both cases by using very similar tactics. Just not any that actually manages to do anyone justice.
Not those charged and convicted of the crimes and certainly not the victims (or their families) either.
What I really commend The Innocent Man for is always including interviews with families of both the victims and the accused. Of course, families of the victims are happy when someone is found guilty.
But that’s because they trust those in charge with solving these cases. And we also get to hear some of the more “creative” tactics used on the victims’ families, when the police are in need of obtaining “evidence”.
Yes, there is a need for an awful lot of quotation marks when explaining how the police and prosecutors “worked” these cases.
It could happen to you
The fascinating part of documentaries like The Innocent Man is the whole “It could happen to you”-vibe. You might feel safe because you’ve never had any run-in with the law, but this show will ruin that.
In The Innocent Man, at least one of the people accused (as well as charged and convicted) has no bad history of any kind. He’s simply the friend of someone who does.
We also saw the same thing happen in Making a Murderer (with the nephew of the man accused). And even more so with Amanda Knox in the documentary about her case.
In every one of these cases, people are accused based on merits that have nothing to do with the actual crimes in question. This is what makes the whole “It could happen to you” very relevant.
And very real in the scariest sense!
Watch The Innocent Man on Netflix
If you like these true crime documentaries, then you should definitely enjoy The Innocent Man. Personally, I really liked this documentary series but I would have preferred if they were more clear on stating the year when showing clips from TV news.
They have a timeline they return to a lot, but where some TV clips were concerned, there was a lack of information.
Also, they do jump back and forth between the two crimes and cases quite a bit from one episode to the next. However, there is a reason for this; We need to see how the police and prosecutors are using the same tactics over and over again.
John Grisham himself is part of the series as well. Both as the author of a book based on these crimes and as a board member of “The Innocence Project”, which helps with appeals.
For the record, it was a relief for me to hear John Grisham note that about half of the people contacting “The Innocence Project” are nutcases. Well, not to hear that they’re nutcases, but that the people working these appeals recognize this issue.
So if anyone thinks these people (lawyers and investigators working on appeal cases) believe everyone to be innocent, this is far from the case.
However, there are far too many cases where people have been wrongfully convicted just to have someone pay for a crime. Somehow, finding a guilty person has become more important than finding the guilty person.
That’s what The Innocent Man is all about and season 1 offers are a lot of insightful examples of this.
Season 1 of The Innocent Man is out on Netflix worldwide from December 14, 2018.
In the 1980s, the small town of Ada, Oklahoma, was the site of two horrific crimes with conclusions that remain controversial to this day.