WHAT PROVING INNOCENCE DOES?
Proving Innocence (PI) is a grassroots non-profit organization located in metro Detroit, MI which focuses on the problem of wrongful convictions. As our name suggests, one emphasis is supplying investigation resources to assist wrongfully convicted persons in proving their innocence. We do this in two ways.
1) We respond to requests from innocence organizations within our state by paying professional investigators to assist them. See below for how our model works. And,
2) With the advent of Conviction Integrity Units (CIUs) which work within the prosecutor's office, we are able, resources permitting, to manage our own cases. In CIU cases, we are not practicing law. We are working with the person seeking to prove his/her innocence by gathering relevant information. We then present it to the CIU to demonstrate the person's innocence. The CIU will then do its own investigation to verify our conclusions. If the CIU agrees with us, it will go to the original trial judge, request that the charges be vacated and the wrongfully convicted person released. The situation is no longer adversarial and does not need to go through the Court of Appeals. The prosecutor's office has determined it wrongfully convicted a person and is correcting their mistake.
Reintegrating into society can be daunting. We care about what happens to the exoneree upon their release. The Walking Free Fund provides exonerees immediately upon release $500 or $800, Click here to explain why the difference. We collaborate with other groups that are able to help the exoneree in specific areas. This includes obtaining a driver's license, housing needs, medical needs, employment opportunities and more.
From the beginning, we have wanted to be holistic in our approach. Our Mission statement lists other concerns we seek to address. This includes promoting criminal justice reform in Michigan and raising public awareness. Click here to read the history of PI.
PI provides a way for people to get involved without being professional investigators or lawyers. Some work must be done in the greater Detroit area, but through technology, those on the board and other volunteers do not need to be local. If you want to explore possible ways of getting involved, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message through our registration form found on the Contact page.
MODEL OF INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES
In this model, innocence organizations have attorney-client privilege with the investigators. Proving Innocence has a supportive relationship with the organization and pays for investigative services, but receives no privileged information. We do not evaluate requests made by the innocence organizations, i.e. we do not waste valuable time and energy justifying their requests because our trust is in the organization, not the individual case. Most often, we respond to simple requests, such as “Can you find this person?” but expanding the scope and discussing strategies can also be provided as well, such as providing expert witnesses and investigative reviews.