The Innocence Project was founded in 1992 by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld at Cardozo Law, to assist incarcerated people who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. To date, 193 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing through The Innocence Project. These incarcerated people served an average of 14 years in prison before their exoneration and release.
Why We Advocate
2 - 5%
of prisoners are estimated to be innocent
successful DNA-based exonerations
as of July 2022
of prisoners found innocent had confessed or admitted guilt during trial
An average of
are spent in prison prior to exoneration
spent in prison by 10% of exonerees
Innocence Project Director
Professor Barry Scheck
Professor Scheck is known for his landmark litigation that has set standards for forensic applications of DNA technology. Since 1988, his and Peter Neufeld's work in this area has shaped the course of case law across the country and led to an influential study by the National Academy of Sciences on forensic DNA testing, as well as important state and federal legislation. He and Neufeld coauthored with Jim Dwyer Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted.
The Innocence Project was founded in 1992 by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld at Cardozo Law, to assist prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. To date, over 300 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing—prisoners who served an average of 13 years in prison before exoneration and release. Cardozo clinical students work with prisoners, crime labs, prosecutors, and defense lawyers, and review case histories, including transcripts, medical reports, and appellate briefs. They litigate in trial and appellate courts across the country on complex procedural and constitutional issues that arise when getting access to evidence, testing, and proving innocence. This innovative, year-long clinic has represented and provided critical assistance to exonerate innocent prisoners--several of whom were on death row--through DNA evidence. The Innocence Project’s groundbreaking use of DNA technology to free innocent people has provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events but instead arise from systemic defects. Now an independent nonprofit organization closely affiliated with Cardozo, the Innocence Project’s mission is nothing less than to free the staggering numbers of innocent people who remain incarcerated and to bring substantive reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment.