About CIP

What is the California Innocence Project?

what is the innocence project

What is the California Innocence Project?

The California Innocence Project (CIP) is a law school clinical program at California Western School of Law dedicated to releasing wrongfully convicted inmates and providing an outstanding educational experience to the students enrolled in the clinic.

Founded in 1999, CIP reviews more than 2,000 claims of innocence from California inmates each year. Students who participate in the year-long clinic work alongside CIP staff attorneys on cases where there is strong evidence of factual innocence. Together, they have secured the release of many innocent people who otherwise may have spent the rest of their lives in prison.

Clinic students assist in investigation and litigation by locating and re-interviewing witnesses, examining new evidence, filing motions, securing experts, and providing support to attorneys during evidentiary hearings and trials. CIP has trained more than 200 students who have gone on to become highly successful criminal defense attorneys, criminal prosecutors, assistant attorney generals, and civil attorneys; all of whom, after their experience in CIP, believe in a fair and honest justice system and realize there is always room for improvement in the law.

Message from the Director

In 1999, we founded the California Innocence Project with 3 goals:

1) To free innocent people from prison

2) To provide outstanding training to our law students so they will become great lawyers

3) To change laws and procedures to decrease the number of wrongful convictions and improve the justice system

I am very proud of the accomplishments we have achieved with all of these goals.  We have brought home many innocent clients over the years and experienced the joy of reuniting them with their families.  We have seen our law graduates go on to do great things.  And, we have participated in changing many laws that assist our work and improve the lives of our clients.

Over the years it has given me great joy to see our work go global in an “innocence movement” that grows bigger and stronger every day. Our project has been deeply involved in Latin America, launching Red Inocenté, a network of innocence projects throughout the region. We have also been involved in international cases, helping to free Jason Puracal from Nicaragua and representing Grace and Mathew Huang in their wrongful incarceration case in Qatar.

There is still a great deal of work for us to do and it’s not cheap.  Simple expenses like gas money for us to visit our clients in remote prisons,  our phone bill so clients can call us from prison, and copies of transcripts and crime scene photos can add up. I encourage you to explore our website and consider donating.  Your generous contribution is 100% tax deductible and will be used to further the work of our project.

Justin Brooks

Director, California Innocence Project