Joann Parks Released After 29 Years of Wrongful Imprisonment
Parks Was Arrested and Wrongly Convicted of Murdering Her Children Based on Outdated Arson Science
Fresno, January 12, 2021 – JoAnn Parks was released from prison after 29 years of wrongful incarceration. Parks was arrested and convicted in the tragic accidental fire that resulted in the death of her children. At the time, the government alleged Parks started the fire. We now know the fire likely started from an appliance in the poorly wired garage the family lived in.
The California Innocence Project (CIP) has advocated for Parks’ release for well over a decade. In 2013, three lawyers from CIP walked 712 miles to deliver a clemency petition to then-Governor Jerry Brown. Governor Brown failed to act on the petition. Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom granted Parks’ clemency petition and commuted her Life Without Parole sentence to make her instantly eligible for parole. Parks went before the parole board and was given a date at her initial hearing – something not all that common but telling given her character and behavior while in prison.
“I am thrilled JoAnn Parks is finally free,” said Justin Brooks, Director of the California Innocence Project and a Professor of Law of California Western School of Law. “Nothing could be worse than losing your children and then being wrongfully convicted of their murder. As we learn more about the science of fires, hopefully these kinds of wrongful convictions will no longer occur.”
JoAnn is set to parole to San Diego where she will be gainfully employed as she reacclimates to society.
“Not only is JoAnn innocence, but she is a wonderful person with so much to give back to her community,” said Raquel Cohen, Attorney at the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law who was the primary lawyer on the case. ” I cannot be more excited to pick her up and watch her blossom in her new life. We are all forever grateful to Governor Newsom and the parole board for seeing her potential and making this day possible. I will continue to fight to get her conviction overturned, but now I will get to do it while she is enjoying her freedom.”
Parks was the Subject of a 2019 book written by Pulitzer Prize winner Ed Humes, entitled, “Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn’t.”
About the California Innocence Project
The California Innocence Project is a California Western School of Law clinical program dedicated to the release of wrongfully convicted inmates and providing an outstanding educational experience for students enrolled in the clinic. The California Innocence Project receives approximately 1,500 claims from inmates each year and has freed 35 wrongfully convicted clients since its inception. Read more at: https://CaliforniaInnocenceProject.org