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New Conviction Review Unit in to help wrongfully convicted inmates prove innocence

Posted: 5:51 PM, Nov 13, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-13 23:27:11Z

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A new unit with the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office will help free people who are wrongly convicted of crimes.

"It’s like being in a jungle, you're just trying to survive there," said James Bain 

Bain spent 35 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

"Wrongful convictions are rare but even one is an injustice," said Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew H. Warren. 

In 1974, at the age of 19, Bain was convicted to life in prison for kidnapping and raping a boy.  

"I thought I was going to die there," said Bain.

He’s maintained his innocence ever since.

"When I was in there, I was constantly fighting until this new technology came around," said Bain.

With help from the Innocence Project and DNA testing, Bain was proven innocent and released in 2009.

Now Hillsborough County is one of just 35 jurisdictions in the entire country where the state attorney’s office is starting a Conviction Review Unit, to help people like Bain. 

"We look forward to helping the justice system be even better by an impartial review to make sure no innocent man is serving in prison," said Judge E.J. Salcines. 

Bain has been out for nearly 10 years. Now, at 63 he works full-time and has a family, although he was robbed of 35 years of his life,  he says he’s forgiven and feels blessed for his freedom.

To date, there have been more than 2,000 exonerations in the United States, including 164 death row exonerations.

But Bain says he knows there are others like him still in prison. 

"You have to fight. There is hope, I'm living proof of it," said Bain.