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INDEPENDENT LENS: True Conviction

Airs Monday, April 30, 2018 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Johnnie Lindsey (center), Steven Phillips (left), Christopher Scott (right). ...

Credit: Courtesy of David Alvarado

Above: Johnnie Lindsey (center), Steven Phillips (left), Christopher Scott (right). Meet three exonerated ex-prisoners who start a detective agency to rebuild their lives, help free other wrongly incarcerated persons, and fix the criminal justice system.

Discover a detective agency in Dallas, run by three exonerated men who all spent decades in prison. Their mission: to free other innocent people still behind bars.

After serving a combined 60 years in prison for crimes they did not commit, three recently exonerated Texans — Christopher Scott, Johnnie Lindsey and Steven Phillips — join forces to form the unlikeliest of investigative teams, on a mission to help wrongfully convicted prisoners obtain freedom like they did.

In Jamie Meltzer's hardboiled yet rousing documentary, brotherly bonds are formed out of shared hardships — lengthy prison sentences in a state that executes more inmates than any other.

Through the steadfast fieldwork of this grassroots "dream team," these Dallas detectives are transforming decades of hard time into a new career helping others just like them.

“True Conviction” premieres on INDEPENDENT LENS Monday, April 30, 2018 on PBS.

INDEPENDENT LENS: True Conviction: Trailer

After serving a combined 60 years in prison for crimes they did not commit, three recently exonerated Texans join forces to form an unlikely investigative team, on a mission to help wrongfully convicted prisoners obtain freedom like they did. In "True Conviction," brotherly bonds are formed out of shared hardships — lengthy prison sentences in a state that executes more inmates than any other.

Focusing on the cases of Max Soffar, a death row inmate of 35 years who was forced into a triple murder confession as a young man, and Isaiah Hill, sentenced to life in prison on aggravated assault charges after refusing a plea bargain, the trio logs in hundreds of miles digging up fresh evidence on behalf of their incarcerated clients.

Through tenacity, hope and determination these freedom fighters work together to rebuild broken lives and families as they campaign to fix the criminal justice system while still fighting demons of their own.

True Conviction – “Get Me Out of Prison, Man” – Clip

In this excerpt from the INDEPENDENT LENS film "True Conviction," Christopher Scott, exonerated former prisoner-turned-investigator, talks with a distraught Isaiah Hill whom Scott feels is wrongly imprisoned. Isaiah takes him through the day of a failed robbery he was eventually arrested for, and how a racist DA ended up getting him life in prison. Scott says he'll do all he can to get him out.

“There’s never been a detective agency quite like the one Chris, Johnnie and Steven formed to free other wrongfully-convicted men,” said Lois Vossen, INDEPENDENT LENS executive producer. “Who better than three innocent and freshly exonerated men to smell out flawed cases, false evidence or corrupt cops and DA’s? Their search for justice is part ‘true crime’ story, part struggle for redemption, and part fight for social change in a truer-than-fiction account that plays like an Easy Rawlins novel meets Hollywood movie.”

“By focusing on the experiences of a group of exonerees who are themselves learning to investigate … this project is unique. It celebrates the indomitable spirit of these men… follows a gripping storyline… and highlights the challenges and roadblocks of investigating and proving another man’s innocence. This unprecedented approach sets the film apart from other documentaries that have explored the lives of the wrongly convicted.”Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, Co-founders and Co-directors, Innocence Project

Photo credit: Courtesy of David Alvarado

Steven Phillips, Johnnie Lindsey, Judge Robert Burns and Christopher Scott.

AWARDS:

Tribeca Film Festival - Special Jury Mention for Best Documentary Feature

Oak Cliff Film Festival - Best Documentary Feature Grand Jury Prize

Annapolis Film Festival - Audience Award - Best Documentary

WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:

This film will be available to stream on demand for a limited time after broadcast.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:

INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter. #IndieLensPBS

"True Conviction" film is on Facebook, and you can follow @Convictionfilm on Twitter.

House of Renewed Hope is on Facebook, and you can follow @HRenewedHope on Twitter.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Sarah Lim

Shooting "True Conviction" at Hickory House BBQ in Dallas – from left to right, Johnnie Lindsey, director Jamie Meltzer, and Christopher Scott.

CREDITS:

Directed by Jamie Meltzer. Produced by David Alvarado, Kate McLean and Michael May. Executive Producers are Adam Spielberg, Dan Cogan, Seth Gordon, Jenny Raskin, Lois Vossen and Sally Jo Fifer. Cinematographer is David Alvarado. Editor is Jeff Gilbert. Music by Joshua Abrams.

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