News 07.01.08

New projects in Iowa and New York

As momentum continues to grow in the innocence movement, new groups are forming around the world to investigate and appeal possible wrongful convictions. In the news this week are two new projects: the Innocence Project of Iowa and the Arson Screening Project at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Professors at John Jay announced today

the formation of the Arson Screening Project

, to investigate a growing backlog of questionable convictions based on unreliable arson science. The group was formed with a $250,000 grant from the JEHT Foundation, a major Innocence Project supporter. Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck said the new group is "an important effort to see below the tip of an iceberg, to a generation of cases based on bad science."

And the

Innocence Project of Iowa

is among the newest members of the Innocence Network. The new organization has begun work to investigative the cases of state prisoners claiming to have been wrongfully convicted. The group was formed last year by pro bono attorneys and professors at Drake University and the University of Iowa, and paralegal students at Lakes Community College have begun reviewing cases and recommending innocence claims for further investigation.

Brian Farrell, a Cedar Rapids attorney, said the group could not find a home or funding at Drake or The University of Iowa, but both schools supported the involvement of students in the program.

"The motivation goes back to our belief that one of the worst things that can happen in society is for an innocent person to be deprived of liberty," said Farrell, one of the group's board members. "Even if it happens once, that's too much."


Read the full story here

. (Chicago Tribune, 06/30/08)

The Innocence Project is a founding member of the Innocence Network, an affiliation of more than 40 legal organizations devoted to overturning wrongful convictions around the world.

Visit the Innocence Network website to learn more

.

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