An overview of the Innocence Project
Spending a lot of time researching all things criminal justice, Captain Alexis Fecteau has been fascinated by a movement called the Innocence Project. The movement looks closely on cases that have DNA evidence ready for testing and retesting, which happens in around 5 to 10% of criminal cases.
Many participants of the Innocence Project are also affiliated with the Innocence Network. These individuals help in exonerating prisoners who were wrongly accused in cases without DNA testing.
Helping people who may have been wrongfully convicted of crimes in the U.S. is only part of what participants in the Innocence Project do. The team behind the Innocence Project is also committed to learning more about the law and researching ways to help the wrongfully convicted, notes Captain Alexis Fecteau.
While a lot of the cases people from the Innocence Project are handling seem like uphill battles, to say the least, their successful campaigns have been nothing short of impressive. In fact, there were instances wherein people due to die on death row had their sentences overturned in large part thanks to the efforts of those in the Innocence Project.
As of January 2019, it has been reported that over 360 people convicted of serious crimes had their sentencing overturned because of DNA testing, which started in 1989. It is also important to note that 20 of these people were on death row, that 99% of the wrongfully convicted were male, and that seven out of every 10 wrongfully convicted came from ethnic or minority groups.
Captain Alexis Fecteau shares some important statistics that the Innocence Project discovered on those who were exonerated.
- The average sentence served for those who
were exonerated was 14 years.
- In over 40% of these DNA cases, law enforcers
were able to find the actual person who committed the crime.
- Approximately seven out of every 10 of those
exonerated through DNA testing have been financially compensated for their time
- The federal government, 27 states, and Washington D.C. have passed laws providing some level of financial compensation to wrongfully convicted people.
While the Innocence Project was born in New York City, the movement accepts cases from anywhere in the U.S., explains Captain Alexis Fecteau. Most of the clients are considered on or below the poverty line, and around 3,000 prisoners write the Innocence Project every year to ask help regarding their cases.