Founded in 1992 with only three attorneys on staff, Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck have made a profound impact on the criminal justice system in the United States over the past 25 years. Explore their 25th anniversary interactive summary online and if you are interested, see how you can help.
As Craig Watkins, former Dallas District Attorney, stated:
Everybody thinks the civil rights struggle is over. It’s not. There’s a new civil rights struggle, dealing with criminal justice.
In 1992, there were three attorneys on staff of this project affiliated with the Cardozo Law School, the Cardozo Law School clinic trained 20 students that year, there were ten exonerations by 1992, and zero states with post-conviction DNA statutes in 1992.
To date, there have been 349 exonerations using DNA technology, there are 50 states with access to post-conviction DNA testing, 25 states that record interrogations, 20 states with improved eye-witness procedures, 32 states with wrongful conviction compensation laws, 100+ laws have been passed so far to prevent wrongful conviction and support exonerees, 80 staff members of the Innocence Project, and 550 Cardozo Law School students trained since 1992.
In addition to establishing Conviction Integrity Units, state prosecutors have taken another big step beyond their adversarial role to correct wrongful convictions. See, David Lohr, Prosecutors Move to Dismiss Largest Number of Wrongful Convictions in U.S. History, HuffingtonPost (Apr. 18, 2017).
The New York Times editorial titled Chicago’s Grim Era of Police Torture offers a window into a “grisly period from the 1970s to the 1990s when the Chicago Police Department’s infamous torture crew rounded up more than 100 African-American men” who were brutally tortured until they confessed.
We are pleased to join investigative reporter Susan Goldsmith and filmmaker Meryl Goldsmith in announcing that their powerful film on shaken baby syndrome, “The Syndrome” will be available everywhere on video on demand starting April 15, 2016. iTunes, DirecTV, In Demand (cable outlets), Amazon Instant and so many more are all distributing the film.
An estimated 1,000 innocent people are currently incarcerated based on doctors diagnosing shaken baby syndrome, a child abuse theory that has been disavowed as “junk science.” The prosecutions, false allegations and devastation of innocent peoples’ lives continues even as the science has dissolved.
Several years ago, in England, the prosecution re-examined a series of its shaken baby convictions and re-evaluated its policies and procedures for handling such cases. Interestingly, the new wrongful conviction integrity unit in the LA County District Attorney’s Office told California Public Radio that they plan to review shaken baby cases.
- The Syndrome, Apple iTunes.
- The Syndrome, Facebook.
- Tara Haelle, Doctors Devise a Better Way to Diagnose Shaken Baby Syndrome, NPR North Carolina (Jul. 29, 2015).
- Samantha Adams, Shaken Baby Syndrome and Wrongful Convictions, Innocence Project of Florida: Plain Error (Mar. 30, 2015).
- Innocence Project, Washington Post In-Depth Investigation: Shaken Baby Syndrome, (Mar. 23, 2015).
- California Innocence Project, Shaken Baby Syndrome.
- Jae C. Hong, LA County’s New Wrongful Conviction Unit Flooded with Hundreds of Innocence Claims, 89.3KPCC (Nov. 13, 2014).
- Innocence Project, Shaken Baby Cases To Be Reviewed, (Aug. 11, 2014).
- James Ross Gardner, The Trouble with Shaken Baby Syndrome, Seattle Met (Apr. 2, 2014).
- Anthony DiPietro, Battle of Experts: Controversy in Shaken Baby Case Set for NY Court, Pace Criminal Justice Blog (Feb. 14, 2014).
- Steve Orr, Judge Orders Special Hearing in Shaken Baby Case, Democrat & Chronicle (Jan. 24, 2014).
- Steve Orr, Watchdog Report: Shaken-Baby Science Doubt Grows, Democrat & Chronicle (June 29, 2013).
- Gary Craig, Watchdog Report: Shaken-Baby Triad Still Rules in New York Courts, Democrat & Chronicle (June 30, 2013).
The Houston Chronicle reports that in Texas
thousands of cases are being reviewed for testimony about DNA odds that may have been given using outdated guidelines that inflated the likelihood a defendant had touched a murder weapon or another piece of evidence.
Developments in DNA technology had revolutionized the use of DNA evidence in criminal trials and had played a major role in the efforts to uncover wrongful convictions.
Although those involved in innocence litigation know that Texas has a very bad record in wrongful convictions, particularly based on DNA, in the words of Barry Scheck (a co-founder of the Innocence Project), “Texas is the only place that’s systematically trying to correct it.”