Our Project aims to serve and to free people who are in prison for crimes they did not commit. We work to fix the problems that lead to wrongful convictions in our justice system, and focus on those issues important to the people of West Virginia. Only by looking at the causes of wrongful imprisonment can we help our clients, and help end the cycle.
The West Virginia Innocence Project
The West Virginia Innocence Project is a legal clinic within the Clinical Law Program. Each year, students work at the WVIP to investigate potential wrongful convictions and gain practical skills. The WVIP serves those who were wrongly convicted in either state or federal court in West Virginia and does not charge for its services. The WVIP serves only those prisoners who maintain that they are actually innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. To request help from the WVIP, prisoners must complete the Application for Assistance.
The WVU Clinical Law Program marks its 40th year in 2017. It offers qualified
third-year law students the opportunity to represent clients under faculty supervision.
The Clinical Law Program aims to expose students to all phases of lawyering, from
interviewing and counseling clients, to drafting briefs and pleadings, to appearing
in court or before administrative tribunals. Heavy emphasis is placed on the development
of the professional lawyer with particular focus on the Rules of Professional Responsibility.
History of the Innocence Project and the Innocence Network
The original Innocence Project was founded in 1992 by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld at Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City. The goal of the project was to use DNA testing to exonerate wrongly convicted people. Other projects within the larger Innocence Network now take select cases where DNA testing is unavailable. Currently, there are 46 U.S. states represented in the Innocence Network as well as several different countries.