This page is a set of suggestions and instructions for how to campaign effectively to free a wrongly convicted person.
Facebook can be an effective tool for contacting people, making your case, getting support. There is little doubt that support can have a major impact on appeal judges, in a recent case ( Ryan Ferguson ), the appeal judges even remarked that they were influenced by the lack of public confidence in Ryan’s conviction.
Make a Facebook Group
The group allows people to show public support in an effective way.
I recommend having just a single Admin for the Group – it is easier and more reliable.
Depending on the case, the group can be open or closed. For high profile cases, an Open group is probably best.
Make a Facebook Page
The page should have a short description of the strongest points that support innocence, that anyone can support.
The Page is useful for people to invite their Facebook friends to come and support the wrongly convicted person.
Link the group and the page together
The page should have a link to the group, and the group should have a link to the page.
Both should also have links to a website where more detailed information about the case is available.
Support other wrongly convicted people
It is not hard to find other cases. See for example Featured Cases of the Wrongly Convicted Group.
Don’t be afraid to support other cases. In the vast majority of cases where there is significant support ( more than 10 independent people ), the chances are the conviction was wrongful.
What is the very worst thing that can happen? Especially if the person has no record of violence before or after the alleged crime ( often a sign of a wrongful conviction ).
Issue regular updates
Post something on the Page (say at least once a month) to remind people about the case, and ask them to invite any new Facebook friends they have.
Ask people to use the “See All” link just above the “Invite” button.
If progress is slow, sometimes individual PM with people is more effective than “mass mailing”.
Learn how to set the Facebook “URL” of the group and page to something that makes sense.
For a Page, you have to get 25 “Likes” before this is allowed.
https://www.facebook.com/JamesStoneSupport Here the group is closed.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Hannah-Overton/1383674658521599 Here the page address has not yet been set, because Likes had not reached 25 at time of writing.
( Later, now it has: https://www.facebook.com/SetHannahFree )
https://www.facebook.com/JohnRamosSupport Here everything has been set up.
https://www.facebook.com/FreeDianeDowns Everything has been set up.
Occasionally you will get people coming onto pages complaining someone is guilty. Try to remain polite.
If they are abusive, ban them from the public page and ignore any private messages ( I do not recommend using the Facebook Block function, instead just move to archive, say ).
Do not waste time on people who have already made their minds up, focus instead on people who do have not heard about the case, or only slightly.
Present your strongest points first to them.
Have a reference website
If you do not already have one, I recommend wordpress. This can be used to organise case material.
You can upload PDFs, I recommend making “machine-readable” pages of key transcript, so you can quote it easily if asked.
See if there is a Facebook Group for your Country / State
It can help to meet up with other people in your State, especially if you know of other cases in your state. See Recommended sites.
Try to obtain support from a journalist or news organisation
Programs such as 20/20 can be very helpful.
I am not suggesting Facebook is the only way to campaign, just that it is a new way, and appears to be quite effective in recent cases. And ultimately, a good lawyer and legal action is the only way to free a wrongly convicted person. However, campaigning can play a part as well.
Another method may be Radio Shows, I do not have much experience of this. Also petitions (change.org for example).
There is little doubt that Ryan Ferguson would still be sitting in prison if an effective campaign had not been organised.