Attorneys with the Innocence Project of Texas say they are busier than ever, in part due to the popularity of the Netflix series Making a Murderer. Texas leads the nation in exonerations, and at the center of every case is the story of a life that could have otherwise been lost.
Richard Miles knows first-hand what it's like to serve time for a crime he didn't commit.
"Freedom is rarely appreciated until it's taken," said Miles. "I received a total of 60 years for a murder and attempted murder I had no knowledge of."
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Miles was convicted when he was just 19 years old. He was sentenced to 60 years behind bars, not knowing if he'd ever be free.
"It was total darkness for quite some time," he said.
A miscarriage of justice is the focus of Netflix's 10-part series, Making a Murderer. Attorneys with the Innocence Project of Texas say the show's plot hits close to home.
"We have a tremendous backlog, as does every Innocence Project in the country," said Gary Udashen, an attorney who volunteers with the organization. "There is not enough lawyers available to handle every case where there is a legitimate case of innocence."
Dallas County leads the nation in DNA exonerations and was the first in the country to create a Conviction Integrity Unit. Attorneys say that kind of a structure and cooperation in the DA's office is critical to bringing justice to innocent clients.
"They have a real good staff of attorneys that work on these cases. They take seriously the question of determining if these people were wrongly convicted," said Udashen.
"Dallas County and the state of Texas really lead the country. We're sort of the epicenter of all of this activity. It's very moving because we're seeing people who are getting their lives back. It's like a rebirth of these people," said Udashen.
That is something to which exoneree Richard Miles can certainly relate. Fifteen years after he was imprisoned, his conviction was overturned when new evidence was brought to light in his case.
"To me it's more than a person who is locked up. You have a life. Right now, I am married, I have a nine-month daughter, a nonprofit organization. So they released more than just Richard Miles in 2009. They released a life," he said.