About the California Innocence Project

Our Missions

The California Innocence Project has three missions:

  • Free the wrongfully convicted from prison.
  • Work to reform the criminal justice system.
  • Train law students to become zealous advocates.

About Us

Founded in 1999, the California Innocence Project (CIP) reviews more than 2,000 claims of innocence from California inmates each year. CIP has secured the release of dozens of innocent people who otherwise may have spent the rest of their lives wrongfully incarcerated.

As a clinical program at California Western School of Law, students from the school apply to participate in CIP’s year-long clinic. Selected students work alongside CIP staff attorneys on cases where there is strong evidence of factual innocence. They assist in case investigation and litigation by locating and re-interviewing witnesses, visiting crime scenes, examining new evidence, filing motions, securing experts, and providing support to attorneys during evidentiary hearings and trials.

Since its inception, the California Innocence Project has been involved in changing law and policies in California related to preserving evidence, litigating innocence cases, preventing misidentifications, and compensating exonerees.

About Innocence Work

More than 60 innocence organizations have been established in the U.S. and worldwide and have freed hundreds of innocent people since the 1990s. Organizations are located in Ohio, Washington, Florida, Arizona, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Holland and elsewhere.

Litigating an Innocence Case

If strong evidence of innocence exists, we ask the court to reopen the case through an evidentiary hearing. If the court decides that we have provided enough evidence of innocence, the client is exonerated.

Causes of Wrongful Convictions

There are nearly 2,000 documented cases of wrongful convictions in the U.S. The leading causes of wrongful convictions are bad identifications, false confessions, false informant testimony, official misconduct, and ineffective assistance of counsel.

How You Can Help

As a nonprofit organization, the California Innocence Project relies on volunteer and donor support to do its work. Make a donation here, and learn about CIP’s volunteer opportunities here.