Law School’s Innocence Project Awarded DOJ Grant

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Andrew Leander Wilson, center, is released March 16, 2017, after spending 32 years behind bars for a wrongful murder conviction. He was freed with the help of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent.
Andrew Leander Wilson is released March 16, 2017, after spending 32 years behind bars for a wrongful murder conviction. He was freed with the help of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent.

The Loyola Law School, Los Angeles Project for the Innocent (LPI) has been named the recipient of a $223,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Justice for its advocacy work. The funds will allow the LPI to hire additional staff to investigate and litigate on behalf of defendants who were wrongfully convicted. The project was founded by Laurie Levenson, professor and David W. Burcham Chair in Ethical Advocacy and director of the Center for Legal Advocacy at Loyola Law School.

The Justice Department grant comes from the Wrongful Conviction Review Program, part of the Bureau of Justice Assistance in the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs. The program supports organizations that provide representation to potentially wrongfully convicted defendants with innocence claims. 

“This grant is a wonderful opportunity to expand our services to the hundreds of individuals who have written to us claiming that they are innocent,” said Levenson. “We are thrilled and honored that the Department of Justice has made it possible for the LPI to grow so that we can fulfill our mission of helping all individuals who may have been wrongfully convicted.”

The LPI’s work has led to five exonerations of people who have been wrongfully convicted. The project includes both field work — investigating claims of innocence, chasing leads, interviewing witnesses, meetings with prosecutors and visiting prisoners — and classroom work, including reading, research and drafting papers and documents.

LPI also has launched a Campaign for Justice to fund the Kash Register Fellowship, created by former client and exonoree Kash Delano Register, who spent 14 years in prison after a wrongful conviction. LPI students and attorneys secured his release in 2013.