Club Spotlight: Innocence Club

Sophomore Scott Golban leading a club meeting about eye witness testimonies.

Photo Credit: Scott Golban '21

Sophomore Scott Golban leading a club meeting about eye witness testimonies.

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Often, we hear that America’s criminal justice system is broken and needs to be fixed. However, this issue and the limited attempts to resolve the problems are rarely discussed among the public. As a result, Scott Goldban ’21 has recently established the Innocence Club here at SHS. The club’s function is to promote awareness of wrongful convictions and false imprisonments in this broken system. The club is partnered with the Exoneration Initiative, a not-for-profit organization that provides free legal assistance to wrongfully convicted people in New York. This establishment focuses mainly on cases that lack DNA, which make up over 90% of all criminal cases. During meetings, students are able to listen to examples of and learn more about the issues facing our criminal justice system.

Although one of the club’s primary objectives is to raise funds and awareness for the Exoneration Initiative, there is much more that members can learn from their involvement. “I hope students get an introduction to the criminal justice system and see the system for its strengths but also recognize some of its weaknesses,” expressed club advisor and SHS history teacher Andrew Morgan. Presentations and activities planned by Goldban, the club’s founder and president, attempt to highlight these injustices. The first meeting consisted of a short presentation on the case of John Bunn, who served twenty-seven years in jail for the murder of a corrections officer that he did not commit. One of Goldban’s future goals is to invite Bunn as a speaker at Global Citizens Day to share his knowledge of the criminal justice system and possible ways to reform. The following meeting included an interactive aspect; club members experienced a police line-up simulation where students viewed a picture at the beginning of the meeting, and later had to select who they believed to be the culprit. Surprisingly, a substantial portion of the group chose the wrong person. The purpose of this demonstration was to prove the unreliability of eyewitness testimonies, and that, alarmingly, these can incarcerate an innocent person.

“If you are interested in [this club], please come to the meetings and on top of that maybe just spread the word on how widespread this issue really is,” recommended Golban. Meetings are typically held every other Wednesday in room 2N2 at 3 pm.