Newswise — This year marks the tenth anniversary of the founding of the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law, a project that often represents the only hope for the wrongfully imprisoned.
The California Innocence Project is a law school clinical program dedicated to the release of wrongfully convicted inmates and providing an intensive educational experience for law students enrolled in the clinic. Each year, the San Diego-based project reviews more than 1,000 claims of innocence from inmates. To date, the project has secured the exoneration of eight wrongfully incarcerated individuals.
Charges against these exonerees range from armed robbery, to first-degree murder and child molestation. Combined, these individuals served more than 96 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. Their stories reveal flaws in the American justice system, according to project director and California Western Professor of Law Justin L. Brooks--and point to problems he hopes the project can help correct. “This work will continue,” says Brooks. “There will always be innocent people convicted, because these decisions are made by people and they’re not perfect—and there will always be wrongful convictions.”
This fall, the project’s team is working to release Reggie Cole, William Richards, and Rafael Madrigal, Jr. from prison, after securing exonerations for all three men in the past three months. The project will also continue work on a case involving a 30-year-old murder conviction in the killing of a drug dealer, and a third-strike case involving possession of a weapon.
Additionally, exoneree Timothy Atkins is expected to have his compensation hearing for reparations in Sacramento by the end of the year. California state law allows exonerees to receive $100 for each day they are wrongfully convicted. The California Innocence Project helps its clients secure that compensation, a process that can typically take several years.
“We are very proud of the exceptional work of the Innocence Project.” says California Western Dean Steven R. Smith. “In addition to righting terrible wrongs, it is a source of outstanding education for our students. The entire law school community joins in celebrating 10 years of success. California Western looks forward to the Project’s ongoing work in the service of justice for the wrongfully imprisoned.”
A link to more information on the program: http://www.cwsl.edu/main/default.asp?nav=cip.asp&body=cip/home.asp