Innocence Projects
Innocence Projects provide representation and/or investigative assistance to prison inmates who claim to be innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. There is now at least one innocence project serving each state (except Oregon and Tennessee, whose programs are undergoing reorganization). Most of these innocence projects are new and overwhelmed with applications, so waiting time between application and acceptance is long. Wrongfully convicted persons should not be dissuaded from applying to Innocence Projects because of this, but should have realistic expectations regarding acceptance and time lags.  Check the list for the innocence project in your area; we update it regularly.
Innocence Projects Contact List
Contact information for all US innocence projects
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The Oregon Innocence Project has experienced more setbacks than most innocence projects in the US.  Begun with high hopes, it was forced to suspend operations when its founder became a judge.  The OIP was restarted in 2014 by Aliza Kaplan, an associate professor at Lewis & Clark Law School; Portland lawyer Janis Puracal; Lane Borg, executive director of Metropolitan Public Defender Services; and S. Bobbin Singh, executive director of the Oregon Justice Resource Center.  The entire annual budget is $130,000, for everything.  Yet the OIP now has one of the top defense attorneys in the country as its legal director.


Link:

"Truth Has Fallen" trailer: Innocence Does Not Guarantee Freedom






Video by John Maki
The Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth (CWCY) is a joint project of the Children and Family Justice Center and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Laws Bluhm Legal Clinic. 

The CWCYs mission is to uncover and remedy wrongful convictions of youth, as well as to promote public awareness and support for nationwide initiatives such as efforts to reform juvenile interrogation techniques aimed at reducing the frequency of wrongful convictions.

The Professor and the Prosecutor:
Anita Alvarez’s office turns up the heat on David Protess’s Medill Innocence Project

The Professor's Response:  The Chicago Innocence Project
Watchdogs Over the Justice System

A One-Two Punch to Innocence Projects

Opponents of the death penalty looking to exonerate wrongly accused prisoners say their efforts have been hobbled by the dwindling size of America’s newsrooms, and particularly the disappearance of investigative reporting at many regional papers.  In the past, lawyers opposed to the death penalty often provided the broad outlines of cases to reporters, who then pursued witnesses and unearthed evidence.  Now, the lawyers complain, they have to do more of the work themselves and that means it often doesn’t get done. They say many fewer cases are being pursued by journalists, after a spate of exonerations several years ago based on the work of reporters.

Steven Barnes is the embodiment of a little-mentioned aspect of the Madoff affair, the dozens of charitable foundations, being financed by his mythical money, that now find themselves as out of pocket, and pursued by the authorities.  In Steven's case, the money went to the Innocence Project, a New York-based criminal justice organization, which uses the latest DNA techniques to prove the innocence of the wrongfully imprisoned.  These days, Steven talks on behalf of the Innocence Project. He is angry that Madoff's corruption has deprived it of necessary funds to secure the release of others.

DNA evidence has been used to exonerate more than 230 people wrongfully convicted nationwide, including 24 in New York State. The resulting stories of innocent men being freed after decades in prison have captured the public’s imagination and provided fodder for a number of Hollywood dramas.  But the proliferation of such exonerations, as well as the wider availability of DNA evidence, has also made it harder for prisoners seeking to prove their innocence in the much larger number of cases that do not involve DNA evidence. Many lawyers have grown more reluctant to take on these kinds of cases because they are much harder and more expensive to pursue.  Now efforts are emerging to change that.  New Efforts Focus on Exonerating Prisoners in Cases Without DNA Evidence

Fortress Global Investigations, a leading nationally known private investigations firm, has announced through its CEO, former Manhattan prosecutor Robert Seiden, a partnership with well-known exoneree Martin Tankleff and renowned investigator Jay Salpeter to launch the Fortress Innocence Group ("FIG") -- the first high-quality national investigative company focused on working with lawyers to secure evidence to overturn wrongful conviction cases.  Fortress Innocence.

Politicized, angered by societal injustice, and fresh out of Cornell University in 1997 with a degree in English, Huy  Dao figured that if he was going to work for peanuts, he didn't want to be getting someone's coffee. So he took a job as case director for the Cardozo Innocence Project, delivering freedom.  Innocence Project Gatekeeper

A murder and a long list of wrongful convictions have fired a public campaign that threatens to erode confidence in the justice system in Western Australia.  Western Australia Innocence Project

Since her days as a law school student, Katie Monroe has had a passion for criminal cases with more questions than answers.  n 1992, her professional interests and personal life collided when the death of her mother's longtime companion landed Beverly Monroe in prison for a murder she claimed she didn't commit. Katie Monroe's work led an appellate court to overturn her mother's conviction in 2002.  Now Monroe has begun a new chapter in her career as the first executive director of the Utah-based Rocky Mountain Innocence Center (RMIC), a privately funded organization that investigates claims of innocence in Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming.  Fighting Wrongful Verdicts a Passion

Friends of Frank Quattrone, the powerful Silicon Valley banker still embroiled in a federal court fight over his actions during the Internet boom, have pitched in $500,000 to support the Northern California Innocence Project, a non-profit organization that helps defend indigent people who say they are wrongly convicted.  A Helping Hand

Cynthia
Orr, president-elect of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, believes Texas needs a coordinated program to sift through the volumes of mail she and other criminal defense attorneys receive from prisoners who allege they were wrongly convicted.  Texas Age of Innocence?

Inspired by the successes of big-name attorneys like Barry Scheck and of no-name students from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, more than three dozen like-minded groups have sprouted around the country in the past decadeSpread of Innocence Projects seen as 'new civil rights movement'

On August 3, 2006, North Carolina became the first state to create an innocence commission, giving inmates who claim they were wrongly convicted a chance for freedom after their court appeals have failed.  The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, which is to begin its work in the fall, is patterned after one created in Britain in 1997.
 

THE PIONEERS OF INNOCENCE PROJECTS
Centurion Ministries
The first of the Innocence Projects, CM was founded in 1983 by a dedicated lay minister James McCloskey, a former executive who traded in his corporate career for a Masters of Divinity degree from Princeton University. CM is a non-profit organization whose mission is to free from prison and clear the names of individuals who are completely innocent of crimes for which they have been convicted and imprisoned. Centurion Ministries usually takes on cases of inmates who have been sentenced to life terms or were designated for execution. Since 1983, CM's extraordinary efforts and commitment have resulted in freeing more than 14 innocent people from prison.

Centurion Ministries is a small organization whose limited resources are not able to meet the demands of the many requests for assistance which it receives. Therefore, CM has established a list of several criteria to be met before they will consider a case.

  • Individual must have been sentenced to death or a life sentence with little chance of parole for at least 15 years;
  • Individual must be 100% innocent of the conviction and have had absolutely no involvement whatsoever with the crime. This eliminates self-defense or accidental death cases;
  • CM does not take child sexual abuse cases because they require a special expertise that CM does not possess;
  • CM only takes rape cases with DNA evidence, or as part of a murder case;

  • and
  • Individual must be indigent and have pretty much exhausted their appeals. CM is a last resort for cases which would otherwise not be heard.
If you know of a case which meets these stringent criteria, contact CM directly at:
Centurion Ministries
221 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
Click HERE to visit Centurion Ministries' website.

Cardozo Innocence Project
Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld are the co-founders of the Innocence Project at the Cardozo Law School in New York. The Cardozo IP relies on volunteer law students and attorneys to review hundreds of cases of people who say they have been falsely convicted, usually of rape or murder, and, when appropriate, arrange for DNA tests that may support their claim of innocence. Over the last few years the Innocence Project has helped to obtain the release of more than eight innocent prisoners with new DNA tests and evidence which excluded them as participants in the crimes for which they had been convicted. Click HERE for the Innocence Project website.

If you know of a case where the innocence of a wrongly convicted citizen can be proven through DNA testing, contact:

Innocence Project at Cardozo Law School
55 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 790-0354
The Innocence Network is currently expanding efforts to establish satellite Innocence Projects at law schools across the country. These projects will handle cases in which factual innocence can be proven through means other than DNA.

Remington Center Innocence Project
The Remington Center Innocence Project at the University of Wisconsin Law School represents prison inmates who claim to be innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. In general, the IP is interested in cases in which some type of new evidence can be found to prove innocence. "New" means evidence that was not presented at trial because it did not exist, was inadvertently overlooked by the defense or withheld by the prosecution. The Remington Center IP does not take cases in which a person is only claiming that his or her rights were violated. There must be a possibility of developing evidence of factual innocence. Click HERE for the Remington Center's website.

To apply for representation by the Remington IP:

Inmates in Wisconsin prisons should sign up to see the LAIP representative.

Inmates in prisons outside Wisconsin should write to:

Innocence Project of Frank J. Remington Center
University of Wisconsin Law School
975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
Please note: The IP makes its decisions about which cases to take once a year, in August. This may result in a long wait for some applicants.

Innocence Project Northwest
Innocence Project Northwest is affiliated with the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, WA. IPNW now has its own website at http://www.ipnw.org Click HERE to visit their website for full information on the program.

Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions
The Center on Wrongful Convictions was the direct result of the National Conference on Wrongful Conviction and the Death Penalty, held in November 1998. Click HERE for the website.

For further information, write to:

Center on Wrongful Convictions
Northwestern University School of Law
357 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611

 
Truth in Justice