News 11.07.07

Dispatch from California: Using technology to ensure justice for all


By Audrey Levitin, Innocence Project Director of Development



I’m writing from San Jose, California, where tonight Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld and I will attend the 2007 Tech Museum Awards Gala. We’re here because the Innocence Project is among 25 laureates from around the world to be nominated for this year’s awards, which honor groups using technology to make the world “safer and healthier, more prosperous and just.” Representatives from organizations around the world are here for the awards, and we’re honored to a part of this prestigious event. The Tech Awards are hosted by the

Tech Museum of Innovation

in San Jose, an institution devoted to educating the public on the technology that affects our daily lives.

The Innocence Project is among the groups nominated for this year’s SanDisk Equality Awards. One group from each category is chosen to receive a $50,000 grant, but aside from that, it is simply a pleasure to be here, sharing our experiences with groups that make an impact around the world. Over 10 countries are represented here, including the Ukraine, Bangladesh and India. All laureates partner with the Tech Museum to raise awareness of their cause through the web and events around the world during the coming year. The other nominees in our category are:

Counterpart International

, which employs technology to efficiently deliver humanitarian aid around the world;

Devendra Raj Mehta

, which uses low-cost technology to provide prosthetic limbs for amputees in India;

Grameen Shakti

, which is based in Bangladesh and uses renewable technology to empower disadvantaged rural women with economic opportunities; and the

Tropical Forest Trust

, which uses GPS technology to help indigenous people in the Republic of Congo protect their land from loggers.

Click here for a full list of this year’s laureates

.

We’re thrilled to be a part of this group because it will help raise awareness of the need for reliable science in our court system. For almost two decades, the Innocence Project’s work has helped to show that solid technology can make the American criminal justice system fairer and more accurate. Not only has DNA evidence overturned 208 wrongful convictions, it has uncovered flaws in the system that need to be fixed. One of these flaws is the court system’s reliance on questionable “science” – such as bite mark evidence – that can lead to wrongful convictions.

Meeting the other laureates this week has reaffirmed my belief that through developing technology we can alleviate poverty and injustice around the world. The groups we are meeting here – like those mentioned above – are truly world leaders in demonstrating this powerful new paradigm. I’m looking forward to tonight’s dinner and a year of partnership with the Tech Museum to spread the word about DNA testing in the criminal justice system and the power of technology to create a more just society.

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