Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Thanks to recent advances in DNA testing, nearly 100 Americans who have been condemned to death or sentenced to life in prison have been freed after years of confinement. But how have these "fortunates" adjusted to life on the outside -- and what has been done to make up for their lost years? This one-hour documentary from the PBS anthology Frontline follows six former inmates, each of whom have served anywhere from ten to seventeen years for horrendous crimes that they did not commit (and all but one of whom is African-American). None of their stories are pretty or pleasant: An inability to hold down jobs, sustain marital relationships, touch base with family members, or even get used to living in something other than a windowless cell are common threads in their stories. Not helping at all are the implacable prosecuting attorneys who refuse even the balm of an apology and the utter lack of financial compensation from the federal government. Burden of Innocence was assembled by filmmaker Ofra Bikel, whose previous forays into the realm of justice delayed and justice denied included a group of documentaries concerning the notorious Little Rascals Day Care child-abuse trials (a working description of the phrase "legal feeding frenzy").