The Innocence Project is a legal program at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law that seeks to use DNA evidence to overturn the wrongful convictions of innocent people. The program was founded in 1992 by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld.

Barry Scheck became a familiar face to Americans during the O.J. Simpson trial. Many received their first lessons in DNA evidence watching Scheck during the trial. And though the Simpson case was highly controversial, and Scheck's particiapation was sometimes criticized, his work with the Innocence Project receives nothing but praise.

To date, 63 convictions in the United States have been overturned and the innocent released from prison based on post-conviction DNA analysis - 36 of those appeals were led by the Innocence Project. The innocent wrongfully convicted have spent many years in prison - some on death row.1

In 1996 and 1999, the Department of Justice published two reports detailing the use of DNA to exonerate inmates. They address the increasing concern about wrongful convictions and the state of forensic sciences today. Conventional serology, mistaken eyewitness identification, and unmonitored laboratory practices have contributed largely to the population of thousands believed to be unjustly incarcerated.

There is no lack of cases for the Innocence Project to champion - but there is only so much funding. Scheck is working to expand the project into a network of law schools in conjunction with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University. This is The Innocence Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to the release of factually innocent prisoners.

1 - In all, 99 death row inmates have been released from prison due to their later having been deemed innocent; 11 based on DNA evidence.

http://www.cardozo.yu.edu/innocence_project/
http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=special&s=burtman20020107

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