Work of Innocence Project of Florida to be focus of two programs at North Sarasota Library

Events set for March 6 and March 13 at Newtown facility

Image courtesy of the City of Sarasota

The Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources Department will host a two-part program in March that will highlight the work of the Innocence Project of Florida, the county has announced.

The Project is “a nonprofit organization that helps innocent prisoners in Florida obtain their freedom and rebuild their lives,” a county news release explains.

Part 1, to be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on March 6 at the North Sarasota Library, will feature a presentation by Innocence Project board member Harriet Hendel, the release says.

A retired educator and part-time Sarasota resident, Hendel will talk about her experiences in working with the Innocence Project of Florida and highlight the stories of people who have been exonerated, the release adds.

Part 2, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on March 13 — also at the North Sarasota Library — will feature Derrick Williams of Palmetto, who was freed from prison with the help of the Innocence Project of Florida, the release notes. Williams served 18 years in prison before being freed in 2011, “when post-conviction DNA testing proved he was innocent of the crimes for which he had been wrongfully convicted,” the release explains.

Williams will share his story in a conversation with Hendel; audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions afterward, the release notes.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to host this important community conversation about our criminal justice system and the Innocence Project of Florida’s local connections,” said Mary Brown, manager of North Sarasota Library, in the release.

North Sarasota Library is located at 2801 Newtown Blvd. in Sarasota. No registration is required for the programs, the release adds.

Light refreshments will be served both evenings, the release says. The library also will feature informational displays about other people exonerated of crimes as a result of the efforts of the Innocence Project of Florida.

For more information about the programs, call the county Contact Center at 861-5000, or visit

Read more about the Innocence Project of Florida and Williams’ story at