In 2007, a group of Iowa attorneys, professors and students founded the Innocence Project of Iowa. The Project is designed to prevent and remedy wrongful convictions in the state through education, advocacy and litigation. With the creation of the Project, Iowa joins many other state and regional innocence projects that make up the national Innocence Network. There are currently at least 38 university based innocence projects in the United States. The first Innocence Project was founded at the Cardozo School of Law in 1992. Since that time, more than 200 people have been exonerated in the United States, including 15 individuals on death row.
The Innocence Project of Iowa has no paid staff and relies completely on volunteers. Case intakes and initial screenings are completed by the paralegal program at Iowa Lakes Community College, and additional support is provided by students at Drake Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law. Utilizing the services of volunteer attorneys, the Project then provides pro bono representation to inmates with viable claims of actual innocence. An emphasis is placed on cases where DNA evidence is available. To date, the Project has identified two cases to pursue. Hopefully, the efforts of the Innocence Project of Iowa will increase the chances that more Iowa inmates will be exonerated for crimes they did not commit.
For more information about the Innocence Project of Iowa, go to www.iowainnocence.org