Why innocence projects are needed
The extraordinary number — not to overlook the shocking stories — of exonerations throughout the United States have proven that our criminal justice system is systemically flawed and that reform is needed to help prevent future wrongful convictions.
Oregon is not exempt from error. Oregon, like every other state, is susceptible to the same causes of wrongful convictions, such as mistaken eyewitness identification, false confessions, and invalidated or improper forensic science. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, there have been 16 exonerations in Oregon. Without a program in Oregon that focuses solely on wrongful convictions, there would be no certain way to know whether any of the people currently incarcerated here should in fact be freed.
We launched Oregon Innocence Project (OIP) in 2014 with a mission to exonerate the wrongfully convicted, train law students, and promote legal reforms aimed at preventing wrongful convictions.
What we do
OIP is the only project of its kind in Oregon whose sole mission is to actively track inmates' claims of innocence, investigate those claims, test DNA and other scientific evidence, and litigate where appropriate. As well as securing the release of people who have been wrongfully convicted, we provide an outstanding educational experience for students who work with us.
We collaborate with all stakeholders (district attorneys, the defense bar, policymakers, police, victims' rights groups, forensic scientists, laboratory managers, and other practitioners working in the criminal justice system). Our goal is to build support for comprehensive criminal justice reform to improve eyewitness identification, interrogation practices, discovery practices, and other policies that do not serve to protect the innocent or punish the guilty.