Advocates & Volunteers
Things YOU Can Do to Help Exonerate Innocent People and Prevent Innocent People From Being Convicted
The Pennsylvania Innocence Project works to change the criminal justice system to ensure that no innocent person gets convicted. But we can’t do it with our staff alone. To really make a difference in all or our lives, we need the help of everyone willing to give some time, write a letter, attend a hearing, or make some calls.
1. Particpate in #Act4Innocents in Pennsylvania
To help advance change in Pennsylvania, the Project created an online campaign to raise public awareness and provide support for needed legislative reforms. #Act4Innocents in Pennsylvania uses our own Legislative Action Center, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to spread information about wrongful convictions and engage your friends in these critical matters.
By taking part in #Act4Innocents, you become an active member of the Innocence Movement and strengthen the voice for the convicted innocent. Take an active role in the campaign by
- Liking the Project on Facebook (“PaInnocence”) – Like, Share, and Comment on posts
- Following the Project on Twitter (“@innocencepa”)
- Retweet what we put up to all your followers
- Use “#act4innocents” and tag the Project (“@innocencepa”) in your own informational tweets
You can also help RightTheWrong by setting up a Wrongful Conviction Day Wall for Innocence.
- October 4, 2016 is Wrongful Conviction Day – an international day to raise awareness of the causes and remedies of wrongful conviction and to recognize the tremendous personal, social, and emotional costs of wrongful conviction for innocent people and their families. This year, our focus is on ensuring exonerees receive full and fair compensation for their suffering. Get all the information on how you can take part with our Complete Wrongful Conviction Day Toolkit.
To find out about legislation we are working on to help prevent wrongful convictions and ensure compensation for the convicted innocent, visit our Legislative Action Center. There you can send direct emails and tweets to your Pennsylvania state legislators, asking them to support the legislation and otherwise Act4Innocents.
2. Host a Community Event or Fundraiser
The Pennsylvania Innocence Project will work with you to put together a program for your religious institution, community group or school. We have Power Point presentations, videos, and other interactive ways to present on issues related to wrongful convictions.
To have the Project staff help you put together an informative and interesting presentation, contact us by e-mail, or by phone at 215-204-4255.
3. Build Relationships with your Elected Representatives
Many of us never meet with our state or local representatives. Yet, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project engages in active legislation campaigns to make it easier for those convicted innocent to access the courts, to improve criminal justice systems, and to make exonerees’ transition to life outside prison easier. You can help by meeting with your local representatives to discuss your concerns about wrongful convictions. Just by introducing yourself, and letting your representative know you care about innocence-related policy issues, you can help establish useful relationships to help them see the value of supporting progressive legislation. To keep up on specific legislative issues the Project is pursuing, make sure to sign up for our Action Alerts.
4. Reach out to the Media
Getting the word out through the available media is an important part of supporting innocence protection reforms in Pennsylvania. There are small papers all over the Commonwealth that would support an op-ed or guest editorial where a larger publication may reject it.
- You can find your local paper and click through to the web site in this list of Pennsylvania newspapers.
- Keep it BRIEF! Most papers will only consider letters that are 200 words or fewer.
- Respond directly either to new news or an article published in the previous day or two.
- Focus on one point; don’t try to address many issues in one letter.
- DON’T DEMONIZE. Our Project is not about blame; our message is that wrongful conviction aren’t about bad actors but unreliable methods.
- Focus on one important point (don’t try to address separate issues in one letter). Some facts on wrongful convictions and points for letters are compiled here as Points for Op-eds and Letters 2016.
- Point people to a source for more information or to engage in action, preferably the Pennsylvania Innocence Project and this website.
- E-mail your letter in the body of the email (never send unsolicited attachments ) and put “Letter re: your topic or article name ” in the subject line.
- Include your address and daytime phone number for verification.
Many papers prefer on-line submissions, so check the paper’s web-site. Here are a few that have online forms for submission:
- Harrisburg Patriot-News
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Allentown Morning Call
- State College Daily Centre Times
Op-eds are simply longer letters. Many papers will accept op-eds submitted by readers; just call the editorial board or check on the website for their individual guidelines. We prepared a Sample Full Op-Ed covering the major issues in the proposals for reference. (You should choose just one area to focus on.)
After submitting a letter, follow up in a few days with a polite letter if you do not hear anything. If the letter is published, please let us know through Facebook, or sending us an e-mail.
5. Got Other Ideas? Let Us Know
If you have other talents you’d like to share with us, please let us know! We also need assistance from time to time with administrative tasks, such as helping to put together public educational events, keeping up with the developing news in this area of the law, and especially in planning and staffing various fundraising activities. Please complete the form below and let us know what type of skills you have, and how you’d like to help free the convicted innocent.