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 a total of more than 300 people previously convicted of serious crimes in the United States had been exonerated by DNA testing including 20 who served time in death row. Exonerations have been won in 37 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 News
- ‘Making a Murderer’ Town’s Answer to Netflix Series: You Don’t Know – MANITOWOC, Wis. — In the tourism office here, where workers are accustomed to cheery inquiries about Manitowoc County’s best jogging paths and beach views, the questions have suddenly turned dark: How could you possibly promote tourism in such a corrupt town? Why would anyone visit here?
- Wrongly convicted of rape and murder, Jeff Deskovic fights back – Jeffrey Deskovic is curious about everyone and everything. He goes to lectures and reaches out to people, including me. When I met the 41-year-old Throggs Neck activist for breakfast at City Coffee in Jackson Heights last week, he asked the weary waitress where she was from.
- Edward Honaker, freed from prison in groundbreaking case based on DNA testing, dies at 65 – Edward Honaker, convicted in 1985 of a rape he did not commit and condemned to spend the rest of his life in prison, died an innocent man.
- Justice eludes wrongfully convicted man freed from prison – The government admitted more than a year ago that it had wrongly imprisoned Jonathan Fleming for nearly half his life for a murder he didn’t commit. But for Fleming, justice remains a dream.
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 – The story of Clarence Earl Gideon and his fight for the right to have publicly funded legal counsel for the needy.
- Under Suspicion – A lawyer is asked to come to the police station to clear up a few loose ends in his witness report of a foul murder. This will only take ten minutes, they say, but it turns out to be one …
- Witch Hunt – The story of several families who have their lives destroyed when their hometown is whipped into a frenzy by allegations of child molestation.
- Making a Murderer – Netflix’s first true-crime series is a harrowing tale of one man’s entanglement with the U.S. criminal-justice system.
- 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.
- How ‘Serial’ shined a light on our troubled justice system – It’s a true crime story that captivated a nation more than 15 years after it happened: Adnan Syed is serving a life sentence after being convicted of the 1999 killing of his high school girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in Baltimore. William Brangham examines how the podcast “Serial” raised questions about Syed’s defense, and how the case continues to make news.
- 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.
- The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (ADWYC) is a Canadian, non-profit organization dedicated to identifying, advocating for, and exonerating individuals convicted of a crime that they did not commit and to preventing such injustices in the future through legal education and justice system reform.
In the Links
- Alphabetical listing of all Innocence Network member organizations
- Innocence Projects Contact List
- Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law – Innocence Project
- 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