Saturday, October 12, 2013

Student Organizations: The Innocence Project



The Appalachian School of Law's Innocence Project

The Appalachian School of Law established a local chapter of the Innocence Project in 2012.  


Mission Statement

The website of the national organization explains its mission:
The Innocence Project was founded in 1992 by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University to assist prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. To date, more than 300 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 18 who served time on death row. These people served an average of 13 years in prison before exoneration and release. 
The Innocence Project’s full-time staff attorneys and Cardozo clinic students provide direct representation or critical assistance in most of these cases. The Innocence Project’s groundbreaking use of DNA technology to free innocent people has provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events but instead arise from systemic defects. Now an independent nonprofit organization closely affiliated with Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, the Innocence Project’s mission is nothing less than to free the staggering numbers of innocent people who remain incarcerated and to bring substantive reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment.
Case Load

The donation-funded national organization has eight full-time lawyers handling nearly 300 active cases. From the time it accepts a case to its disposition, the Innocence Project lawyers may need a year to a decade to complete litigation. The length of time spent on each case depends on how quickly they can assemble evidence; how long it takes to test the evidence; and whether the prosecutor raises any objections before or after testing takes place.

The Project offers internships and accepts help from selected volunteers. 

Exoneree Speakers' Bureau

It publicizes its activities through its Speakers' Bureau.  The website explains:
The Innocence Project believes that the personal stories of the exonerated provide the most compelling introduction to the problems of wrongful conviction. Our Exoneree Speakers’ Bureau is made up of former Innocence Project clients who have become accomplished public speakers motivated by their desire to prevent future injustice. Their unique expertise and insight into the criminal justice system has affected audiences nationwide. 
The Innocence Project connects exoneree speakers to venues, working with high schools, colleges, civic and religious groups, corporations, criminal justice associations and more to arrange a presentation that fits each individual audience. If you, or a group you are affiliated with, would like to invite an exoneree to speak, please download a speaker request form and send the completed form to Hannah Riley at hriley@innocenceproject.org
Exoneree speakers receive an honorarium for appearances, in addition to per diem and any necessary travel expenses. We work with event organizers to find a price that fairly compensates the speaker and yet works within your budget. In some cases, an Innocence Project representative may also be available to speak at an event.
Appalachian School of Law Hosted an Exoneree Speaker 

The ASL Innocence Project co-sponsored, with BLSA, the presentation to students by Daryl Hunt, an African-American man convicted twice in North Carolina of a murder he did not commit.  In 2005, the state freed Hunt when DNA evidence matched an incarcerated murderer to the crime scene.  That man later plead guilty to the crime.

For more information about this group, contact Blair Creed.  

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