The Innocence Files

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Innocence Files TV Poster Image
Humanizing docu describes graphic violence, has cursing.

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age 13+
Based on 1 review

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

This series brings awareness to the tragic fact that there are people who have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. Though difficult, it is possible to have convictions overturned. It sends a strong message that unless criminal just reform happens, specific groups of people will continue to be treated unfairly by a racially-biased system.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lawyers for The Innocence Project dedicate themselves to getting convictions overturned and then help freed prisoners transition back into society. Prosecutors usually stand by their original convictions, regardless of evidence that suggests the person is innocent. Some of the freed people have criminal records, but are exonerated from the specific crime in question.


Violent crimes are described in graphic detail, including the rape and murder of a child. Images of specific injuries, weapons, and other unsettling evidence is sometimes shown. Gang violence and the death penalty are also discussed. 


Curses including "s--t" and "f--k" are sometimes used during candid conversations. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug use is discussed. Smoking and drinking is sometimes visible.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Innocence Files is a docuseries about people who were wrongfully convicted and then later exonerated for major crimes. Descriptions of brutal violence are frequent (including the rape and murder of a child), and images of injuries and other forensic evidence are visible. Drug use is discussed, and smoking and drinking is sometimes seen. There is some strong language, including the use of "s--t" and "f--k." The Innocence Project is the non-profit legal organization that leads the investigations into wrongful convictions and helps get them overturned. The need for criminal justice reform is a major theme throughout the series, and it particularly highlights the racial disparity that contributes to injustice.

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written byFuntime360 May 4, 2020

Good show

This show in my opinion is suitable for all teens. There is language and descriptions of graphic things, including assault and murder, but nothing that doesn’t... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE INNOCENCE FILES is a nine-part documentary series about prisoners who were released after having their wrongful convictions overturned with the help of non-profit legal organization The Innocence Project. It features eight different people who were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to long-term incarceration thanks to faulty evidence, problematic witness testimony, and flaws in the overall prosecution of their cases. Lawyers break down each individual case, explaining what was (and wasn’t) mishandled before, during, and even after their clients’ trials. Archival images, evidentiary recordings, and interviews with forensic scientists, witnesses, and others connected to each case fill out additional details, and highlight the conditions that contributed to the defendants’ inability to be fairly tried. The obstacles that The Innocence Project had to overcome to get their clients exonerated are also discussed. 

Is it any good?

This revealing true crime series takes a comprehensive look at the flaws in the U.S. criminal justice system through the eyes of people who were wrongfully convicted, and later exonerated, of a serious crime. By putting a face to each legal narrative, The Innocence Files transforms each case file into a human interest story that personalizes the tragedy of an innocent person spending years in prison for a crime he or she didn’t commit. It underscores the need for criminal justice reform by revealing that many defects in the system that resulted in wrongful convictions decades ago continue to persist. These especially highlight historic racial and ethnic biases that make it difficult for Black and Latino individuals to receive fair trials. It’s hard not to be disturbed by some of the stories featured here, but they serve as a testament to the fact that until reform happens, we are not all treated equally under the law. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about former prisoners profiled in The Innocence Files. What made their cases stand out among others who claim they were wrongfully convicted? What did these individuals have in common?

  • Is it necessary for TV crime documentaries to share graphic violence? Do viewers need this information to understand the case in question? When do these descriptions go from being informative to being sensational?

  • Does this series spark any interest in working in the justice system? Why or why not?

TV details

  • Premiere date: April 15, 2020
  • Cast: Genevieve Wong
  • Network: Netflix
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-MA
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: April 30, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love true crime

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