The Fairbanks Four's Wrongful Conviction and 18-Year Fight for Freedom

VICE trekked to Alaska to tell the story of a group of native teens who were wrongfully convicted of murder in 1997.

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Feb 1 2018, 5:30pm

In 1997, a teenager was found beaten to death in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska. Police quickly pinned the murder on four native teens from a local high school and convicted them on false confessions, an unreliable witness, and forged evidence. Still, the "Fairbanks Four" continued to maintain their innocence.

Over time, the fight for their freedom grew into a statewide movement against Alaska’s judicial system. After 18 years, the Fairbanks Four were set free—but the state still refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, the wrongfully convicted men, who were thrown in prison as teenagers, are struggling to get used to life outside after nearly two decades behind bars.

VICE trekked to Alaska to meet two members of the Fairbanks Four, the community members who rallied behind them, and the investigators who helped secure their freedom—exploring the enduring impact of their wrongful incarceration and the native community’s effort to move forward.

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