Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $500,000)
The Oklahoma Innocence Project serves the wrongfully convicted in the entire State of Oklahoma, Districts 1-5 (see map attached) and seeks new of grant funds to continue the case work that has been accomplished from the award of BJA-2020-17139. OKIP’s purpose is to seek justice for those wrongfully convicted and for victims whose real perpetrator was never held accountable for their crimes.
Through investigations, legal research, expert witness testimony and DNA testing, we seek to right the terrible miscarriage of justice that occurs when an innocent person languishes behind bars for a crime someone else committed.
As a legal clinic through Oklahoma City University School of Law, we train law students to be passionate advocates and effective attorneys who diligently represent their clients. Students are given the opportunity to investigate, research, interview clients and witnesses, obtain documents, draft legal documents and attend court proceedings. Beyond practical experience, students also learn firsthand the consequences of bad lawyering and junk science.
OKIP is usually the last chance the innocent and their families have to seek justice and right a wrong. When they come to OKIP, the system has failed them, and they have often lost any hope of being free. Their lives and community have suffered while they are behind bars, serving time for a crime they did not commit. By working to exonerate the innocent we are working to rebuild the families and communities affected by these injustices.
Outcome: With the Upholding the Rule of Law and Preventing Wrongful Convictions Program grant funding OKIP has been able to reduce the previous backlog of cases from 862 to 564. This is approximately a 65% reduction which exceed our previous prediction by 57%. OIP already provides, monthly, quarterly and annual data reports to the OCU Law School, OIP Advisory Board and The Innocence network respectively. They include but are not limited to: new cases, waiting on review, cases reviewed and awaiting student/attorney assignment; active cases in all phases of investigation, expert review and/or litigation and finally cases closed.
NOTE: OKIP seeks priority consideration under Executive Order 13985 1(A). The plan for supporting those who have been wrongfully convicted from rural communities in Oklahoma can be found on page six of the narrative.