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"It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all."
               —Thomas Jefferson


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, 330 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 17 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.

TRUTH IN JUSTICE-Our primary goal in founding Truth in Justice was to heighten public awareness of the epidemic of wrongful convictions. The Truth in Justice web site appears to be the first one of its kind, and traffic has been increasing rapidly.  The case profiles here consist primarily of media reports, the majority of which are accounts of wrongfully convicted persons who have been exonerated. The articles profiling the innocent who remain imprisoned provide details of compelling evidence of innocence.  Specific factors common to wrongful conviction -- faulty eyewitness identification, police and prosecutor misconduct, junk science and systemic flaws -- are also addressed.  Arson and false allegations of a wide range of types of child abuse are examined closely, with experts' reports and links to specialists provided to assist innocent persons facing similar charges.

When we can, we refer wrongfully convicted persons to appropriate resources, but we do not personally provide advocacy services.  We maintain a frequently-updated list of contacts for US innocence projects, as well as innocence projects in Canada, Australia and the UK.  In some instances, we are able to help the wrongfully convicted find the forensic experts needed to prove their innocence.


Since its founding following the 1998 National Conference on Wrongful Convictions and the Death Penalty, the Center has been instrumental in the exonerations of 23 innocent men and women in Illinois. Before the founding of the Center, members of its staff were instrumental in 14 additional exonerations — including that of Gary Dotson, who in 1989 became the first person in the world to be exonerated by DNA.

Of the 37 exonerees, 13 had been sentenced to death. In all, they languished 478 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit. At an average cost per prisoner of $25,000 per year. The taxpayers’ tab for the wrongful imprisonment of the 37 innocent men and women (three of the latter) was roughly $12 million — which pales beside the social costs of lives and careers destroyed and families devastated. Not to mention the death and destruction that resulted from leaving violent criminals on the street.


One of the bedrock principles of American society is that all people—whether rich or poor—are entitled to justice. As a nation, justice is the tie that binds us.

Yet for a variety of complex and interrelated reasons, our justice system is in crisis: legal aid and public defender programs are severely underfunded; attorney caseloads are overwhelming; people are turned away without representation. The evidence of this crisis abounds.

In its 2009 report, Justice Denied, The National Right to Counsel Committee, in partnership with NLADA, asserted that “there is a shocking disconnect between the system of justice envisioned by the Supreme Court’s right to counsel decisions and what actually occurs in many of this nation’s courts.”

THE CHAMPION-NACDL-MISSION: To ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime. To foster the integrity, independence and expertise of the criminal defense profession. To promote the proper and fair administration of criminal justice.

VALUES: The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) encourages, at all levels of federal, state and local government, a rational and humane criminal justice policy for America -- one that promotes fairness for all; due process for even the least among us who may be accused of wrongdoing; compassion for witnesses and victims of crime; and just punishment for the guilty.

CENTER FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE (CSJ)-The mission of CSJ is to be a catalyst for broad-based progressive social change. CSJ works to build strategic relationships with and between diverse communities and organizations who are committed to addressing human rights and social justice issues and working towards building a more just society.

THE PRISON LEGAL NEWS-Prison Legal News is an independent 56-page monthly magazine that provides a cutting edge review and analysis of prisoner rights, court rulings and news about prison issues. PLN has a national (U.S.) focus on both state and federal prison issues, with international coverage as well. PLN provides information that enables prisoners and other concerned individuals and organizations to seek the protection and enforcement of prisoner's rights at the grass roots level. PLN is published by the Human Rights Defense Center.


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