The Innocence Project Network is group of loosely affiliated organizations, including 55 in the United States, that work to exonerate inmates believed to be wrongly convicted through the use of DNA testing and reform the criminal justice system to reduce unjust convictions.
To date (Feb 2014), a total of 312 people previously convicted of serious crimes in the United States had been exonerated by DNA testing, including 18 who served time on death row. Exonerations have been won in 35 states and Washington, D.C.
The original Innocence Project was founded in 1992 by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld as part of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University in New York City. It became an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2003, but maintains strong institutional connections with Cardozo.
The Innocence Project uses DNA evidence to help exonerate wrongfully convicted people. In this interview, co-founder Barry Scheck talks about his work and reforms needed in the justice system to help prevent wrongful convictions.
In the Links
- Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law – Innocence Project
- Innocence Projects Contact List
- List of webpages that discuss wrongful convictions
- Death Penalty Info – “Innocence and the Death Penalty”
- Yale Law School Capital Punishment Guide
- Northwestern Law: The Innocence Network Amicus Brief Bank
- The Innocence Project: List of released people who were exonerated
In the News
- Innocence Project of Minnesota drops ’92 Sherburne County murder case
- The Innocence Project petitions for posthumous pardon of Cameron Todd Willingham
- US man wrongfully jailed shares cautionary tale
- Many Alaska Native prisoners say they were wrongfully convicted
- Innocent man jailed in Texas since 1979 now free
- UVa law students helping man in death row through the Innocence Project
In the Movies
To better understand the issues surrounding wrongful convictions, you should watch the following films:
- The Last Word – This documentary takes the “Innocent Man on Texas Death Row” tale to a dark corner feared by all – - proving that an innocent man has been executed by the State. (recommended)
- Conviction - A working mother puts herself through law school in an effort to represent her brother, who has been wrongfully convicted of murder and has exhausted his chances to appeal his conviction through public defenders. The law school is Roger Williams, based in Bristol, RI. The movie is very good, the school is excellent.
- After Innocence - A gripping, emotionally charged film that follows wrongfully convicted men freed by DNA evidence after decades in prison as they struggle to transition back into society.
- Murder on a Sunday Morning - Oscar-winning documentary that documents a murder trial in which a 15-year-old African-American is wrongfully accused of a 2000 murder in Jacksonville, Florida.
- Trials of Darryl Hunt - Feature documentary about a brutal rape/murder case and a wrongly convicted man, Darryl Hunt, who spent nearly twenty years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
- Gideon’s Trumpet (recommended) -
- Under Suspicion -
- Witch Hunt -
- PBS Frontline presents “The Confessions” – How could four men confess to a brutal crime that they didn’t commit? Inside the incredible saga of the Norfolk Four — a case that cracks open the justice system to reveal almost everything that goes wrong when innocent people get convicted.
- The Innocence Project’s website has a number of videos on its website: Exonerees talking, news & media and seminars & meetings. A great way to see the Innocence project in action.
In the Spotlight
- The Innocence Project – The Innocence Network is an affiliation of organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted and working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions.
- New England Innocence Project – The New England Innocence Project’s mission is to represent persons wrongly convicted in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island or Vermont and to advocate for the reform of our criminal justice system.
- The National Registry of Exonerations is a joint project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. They provide detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989—cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all the charges.
Below is a link to the program at the Top 14 Law Schools. For more information on the various Project at each school, please follow the link to their website.
Top 14 Programs
- Stanford Project – Under the Three Strikes program
- Harvard Project – Uses the New England Innocence Project to handle DNA cases
- UChicago Project – The Exoneration Project is an intensive, rigorous experience designed for students who are committed to providing the best possible representation to deserving clients.
- New York Univ
- UCBerkeley Project – Students at Berkeley Law learn first-hand the responsibility and skills required to defend those facing our legal system’s greatest punishment
- UPenn Project – Under the Pennsylvania Innocence Project together with Temple Law
- UVa Project – Students in this year long clinic investigate three potential wrongful convictions of incarcerated individuals in Virginia.
- UMichigan Project
- Duke Project
- Northwestern Project
- Georgetown Project – The Criminal Defense & Prison Advocacy Clinic (CDPAC) offers students an intensive experience in indigent criminal defense and prisoner advocacy in the District of Columbia
- Cornell Project - The Innocence Clinic at Cornell Law School provides students with an opportunity to obtain practical training in postconviction criminal defense work by investigating and litigating on behalf of prisoners with claims of actual innocence.
- UCLA Project – The California Innocence Project – UCLA Chapter allows students to review claims of innocence made by convicted individuals in southern California
- Roger Williams Project – Uses the
- Pace Project – The Post-Conviction Project provides an opportunity for JD candidates to work – under supervision – as lawyers on behalf of inmates
- Fordham Project -
- Yeshiva Univ – B Cardozo School of law