Freeing the innocent and preventing wrongful convictions worldwide
The Innocence Network is an affiliation of organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted, working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions, and supporting the exonerated after they are freed.
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69 organizations from around the world working to exonerate unjustly convicted men and women, including independent nonprofits as well as organizations affiliated with law schools or other educational institutions, units of public defender offices, and pro bono sections of law firms.
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Recent news articles and media mentions from around the Innocence Network
A serial killer is still on the streets, according to the Minnesota Innocent Project. The public safety concern is one argument made by lawyers trying to keep the fight going for Billy Glaze, who spent 28 years in prison before his death on December 22, 2015.
However, Hennepin County prosecutors argue Glaze is the real serial killer, and that his fight for a new trial should end with his death. On February 10, 1989, Glaze was convicted of murdering and sexually mutilating three Native American women in Minneapolis. In 2004, the Minnesota Innocence Project took up his case, and in 2007, had labs conduct DNA testing on 39 items taken from crime scenes. Glaze’s DNA was not found on any of the items, but the DNA of another man, convicted of raping a Native American woman, was found at two of the crime scenes. Glaze’s lawyers contend the other man, known by the initials J.A.S., is the real killer. Read more.
The path to liberty for Dennis Allen and Stanley Mozee seemed paved back in 2014. Prosecutors and the judge agreed with the men’s attorneys that their convictions should be dismissed because the district attorney who tried them had withheld critical evidence. In October 2014, the two walked out of a Dallas County courtroom, free for the first time in 15 years.
Nearly a year and a half later, the two are still waiting for the state’s highest criminal court to decide whether they should be exonerated in the 1999 stabbing death of the Rev. Jesse Borns Jr. Their path to exoneration has been muddied by the former prosecutor who staunchly defends his work, and an opposing ruling from a different Dallas County judge who said she believes the former lawman did not conceal evidence. Read more.
A judge ordered a new trial Tuesday for a man serving a life sentence for raping an elderly Springfield woman, citing the same kind of flawed FBI forensics testimony that has come under scrutiny across the country and has been used to convict others since cleared by modern DNA testing. George Perrot was arrested when he was 17 years old and has spent almost all of the past 30 years behind bars for the 1985 crime.
“Thank God my prayers have been answered,” his mother, Beverly Garrant, said in a statement to 5 Investigates. “I thank the judge and his whole legal team for a second chance of life for George.” Perrot was convicted with the help of the FBI’s analysis of a hair found in the victim’s bedroom. The FBI used a microscope to compare that hair to one taken from Perrot, and found they were essentially the same, helping convince the jury that Perrot was at the crime scene. Read more.
A Washington state man’s conviction in his mother’s 2000 murder was based largely on a false confession he gave to police after a long interrogation. But like a lot of other wrongful convictions, his case also featured another troubling aspect: incriminating statements from jailhouse informants who received light sentences or had criminal charges dropped after their testimony.
DNA evidence helped free Donovan Allen from prison last month, 15 years after he was arrested. Several state lawmakers hope his exoneration will bolster their case for changes that could reduce the odds of such testimony helping convict innocent people in the future. Read more.
The Oklahoma Innocence Project will go to Tulsa County District Court later this week with new evidence in a 1994 case where two convicted murderers could get another chance to prove they had nothing to do with the crime. Malcolm Scott and Demarchoe Carpenter were 17 when someone drove past a party and shot into the crowd.
Karen Summers died that night, and police focused their attention on the two men after witnesses identified them as the shooters, according to The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt: Vicki Behenna, executive director of the OKIP, said the two men have maintained their innocence through trials and appeals that led to life sentences for both. The project, with help from Oklahoma City University law students, pored over decades-old investigation notes and case files. The students interviewed people involved in the investigation and witnesses. They approached death row inmate Michael Wilson, who confessed that he shot Summers. Read more.
The high court’s decision to severely limit use of the police sting technique has little impact on people convicted before 2014. Mr. Big has a long reach, across courtrooms in Canada and even extending to Australia — and problems follow him wherever he goes, many legal experts say. For those working to clean up Mr. Big’s mess — including a potential for false confessions, miscarriages of justice, even wrongful convictions — the 2014 Supreme Court of Canada ruling only goes so far.
The high court’s severe restrictions on the sting will limit the evidence accepted at future trials and probably discourage investigators from even running the operation. But it’s estimated the controversial, made-in-Canada police tactic has been used more than 350 times since the early 1990’s. Read more.