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From the Executive Director: Time for Change

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We are marking the 10th Anniversary of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project this year. Wow, have we come a long way!

In that time, we have grown from 2 paid staff members and a volunteer, part-time executive director and no structure to a vibrant and respected statewide organization. In ten years, we have reversed the convictions for 14 innocent Pennsylvanians, reunited families after decades apart, and helped newly freed individuals find their way in a terrifying new world. We’ve helped prepare tomorrow’s criminal justice professionals by providing clinical training and experience to hundreds of law and undergraduate students.

Beginning at Temple University Beasley School of Law and Villanova Law School, the Project now has programs at every law school in the commonwealth and a second physical office in Pittsburgh at Duquesne University Law School. Project volunteers and staff have screened thousands of letters from convicted individuals looking for hope, and we are currently litigating two dozen cases in courts all over the state. And we’ve helped change the law to allow those in prison more time to pursue their innocence claims in court, and expand DNA testing to those who pleaded guilty or who have completed their sentences. Because Innocence should never be time-barred.

Pennsylvania Innocence Project supporters play a critical role in freeing innocent people from prison and making the Pennsylvania system ever more fair, equitable, and just for all. I am very proud of the work we have done although, as you know, there is much more to do.

I feel the Project is strong, and that this is a good time for me to move on. Working with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project has been more than I could ever have hoped for, and I will always be committed to the organization and support its mission. But it’s time for fresh leadership and ideas. I leave the Project knowing the work will continue, our wonderful and committed Board of Directors will transition to new leadership smoothly, and that the work of exonerating the convicted innocent will only continue to grow and thrive.

Never could I adequately express how much I have learned working with the Project or the rich impact this work has had on my life. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity and astounded by the support our little Project has throughout the state. I look forward to seeing the Project grow ever stronger in the years to come.

 

With enormous gratitude,

Marissa Bluestine – Executive Director