Photo Credit:  Peter Hellberg

Photo Credit: Peter Hellberg


I am a U.S. citizen, but I was born in Tehran. I am the youngest of three. My sisters are seven and nine years older than me. As a toddler I was more a chore than a little brother to them. I used to insist on playing with them, would go through their things and memorize and mimic the songs they listened to. When their friends were over, I would snoop around and get in their way. In my sisters’ old birthday photos, I’m often climbing one of their friends and trying to be in the mix. It would take time and some considerable geographic distance for me to finally grow on them.

My parents who worked for the board of education thought it would be good for my sisters to study abroad and sent them to universities in the U.S. and Germany. Because we were separated, my sisters would take every opportunity to spoil me with toys and chocolate sent in parcels from Germany and America. To this day, I eat a lot of chocolate.

To read full article: http://flattmag.com/features/story-us/

Photo Credit:  Mitya Ku

Photo Credit: Mitya Ku


REZA POURMOHAMMADI: The Innocence Project is a good example of what can be achieved when great creative minds think outside the box and come up with something that makes a difference in the lives of others. The Innocence Project is 20 years old this year, how’s it going?

PETER NEUFELD: The short answer is that the project has exceeded certainly our own expectations when we first started it. Way back when, we had hoped to look at some old cases of people who had been wrongly convicted and prove their innocence through DNA testing. But once those cases began to mount up, we saw the possibilities of doing much more. For instance, we realized that unless we could change the criminal justice system to eliminate the primary causes of wrongful convictions, then they would persist into the future. So we set out to do something about that. We began working with social scientists and coming up with a list of the primary causes of wrongful conviction. We would deconstruct each of the cases where people were exonerated and do a root cause analysis on what went wrong. We would then work with social scientists and other people to develop strategies to remediate those causes, common sense, empirically based reforms that would make it less likely that innocent people would be wrongly accused in the future. We also began to see the project’s potential as an emerging civil rights movement. To that end, we established a national innocence network, which now has more than fifty projects around the country and projects in ten countries abroad. In the not too distant future, there will probably be twenty-five international projects abroad. People will no longer see this as just an American civil rights issue.

To read full article: http://flattmag.com/features/innocents/