The Pennsylvania Innocence Project works to exonerate those convicted of crimes they did not commit and to prevent innocent people from being convicted. The Pennsylvania Innocence Project has a four-fold mission to: (1) secure the exoneration, release from imprisonment, and restoration to society of persons who are innocent and have been wrongly convicted; (2) provide clinical training and experience to students in the fields of law, journalism, criminal justice, and forensic science; (3) collaborate with law enforcement agencies and the courts to address systemic causes of wrongful convictions; and (4) strengthen and improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in Pennsylvania through public education and advocacy.
A Brief History
In 2008, we founded the Pennsylvania Innocence Project as a non-profit corporation under the leadership of David Richman and David Rudovsky. The Project found its home at Temple University Beasley School of Law because of the Dean, JoAnne Epps’, immense support and enthusiasm.
We officially launched the Pennsylvania Innocence Project in April of 2009. That fall, an innocence clinic was established and gave law students an opportunity to intern with hands-on experience in cases. The Project has since expanded into two offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Our Philadelphia office is housed and supported by Temple University Beasley School of Law including students from Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.
Duquesne Law School supports our office in Pittsburgh, which we recently established in 2016, and also works with students from University of Pittsburgh School of Law. This office helps to better serve many of our clients incarcerated in Western Pennsylvania and build upon our movement for wrongful conviction reform statewide.
We are proud of our accomplishments as a group. So far, in addition to securing new trials for two wrongly convicted individuals, we’ve secured releases from wrongful incarceration and exonerations for four Pennsylvanians who served a combined total of 67 years in prison.
The PA Innocence Project represented and helped gain two people’s releases from prison using Alford Pleas, which is a type of plea that asserts innocence. We’ve also negotiated the new sentence and immediate parole for a client serving a mandatory life sentence imposed on him as a juvenile.
The Project regularly files amicus briefs (additional facts from people not directly involved in the case but hold a strong interest in its outcome) in the U.S. Supreme Court, Third Circuit Court of Appeals, PA Supreme Court, and the Superior Court of PA. All of this work has addressed the critical issues of wrongful convictions in not only Pennsylvania’s Criminal Justice System, but the United States’ system as well.
Today, individual donations, business donations, government grants and in-kind contributions support the PA Innocence Project. We’ve heard from over 5,000 convicted individuals and receive over 500 letters requesting help each year. After an extensive screening and investigation process, The Project represents over two dozen convicted people seeking relief from wrongful imprisonment in state courts all throughout Pennsylvania.