It’s a beautiful thing when you put together the mostly poor, the mostly forgotten, and the mostly forlorn with a group of caring law students, and two men with a big dream and an even bigger heart. What do you get? The Innocence Project!
The Innocence Project is a nonprofit legal clinic, which has an affiliation with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University (http://cardozo.yu.edu/info.aspx?cid=2986 ). It was created by Prof. Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld in 1992. It is a litigation and public policy organization, which is dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.
In reading the Summer 2010 (Volume 6 issue 1), I was once again sadden by the number of people who have been wrongfully convicted through the use of false confessions. And, it disturbed me even more to discover that my home state of New York is a leader in false confessions cases. Since 2002, twenty-six New Yorkers have been exonerated through DNA testing, and 12 of those wrongful conviction cases involved false confessions. The numbers are astounding.
Of the first 250 people The Innocence Project exonerated through DNA testing, here are some interesting facts:
• 29% were Caucasian;
• 17 innocent persons served time on death row before they were exonerated;
• 19 pled guilty to crimes they didn’t commit;
• 84% were wrongfully convicted of sexual assault.
If you are interested in reading more FACTS about false confessions and how The Innocence project helps exonerate those who are innocent read these FACT SHEETS: (http://www.innocenceproject.org/news/Fact-Sheets.php) .
Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward. Feel free to join the conversation on my Facebook Fan Page. Ask yourself, how can help?