Posted on September 13, 2022
Thanks to CREDO members, the Innocence Project is restoring lives by freeing the innocent
Our grantee partners at the Innocence Project exonerate, free, and support the staggering number of innocent people wrongfully incarcerated. The organization envisions a criminal legal system beyond wrongful conviction and works to transform the unjust, unreliable, and racially biased systems responsible.
In February 2022, CREDO members voted to distribute $37,590 to help power the Innocence Project’s work to restore lives by freeing the innocent and supporting their reconnection to community, transform the systems responsible through policy reform, and advance the collective power of this innocence movement. In total, CREDO members have helped us donate $231,317 in total since 2000.
Here are some recent victories and highlights of the Innocence Project’s recent work, thanks to funding from CREDO members:
Funding from the CREDO community helped to support the Innocence Project’s work to restore lives by freeing the innocent and supporting their reconnection to community, transform the systems responsible through policy reform, and advance the collective power of the innocence movement.
The IP’s work begins with freeing the innocent and examining the root causes of each wrongful conviction. In the last year alone, eight wrongfully convicted people were freed or exonerated. Each exoneration reveals patterns of racial bias, unethical conduct, improper police procedures, prosecutorial misconduct, and invalid science — informing and driving our reform and prevention efforts.
Behind each wrongful conviction is a human being whose freedom was lost because of bias, incompetence, indifference or corruption, — a mother, brother, father, son or daughter. Their stories amplify not only the injustices they have faced, but also our clients’ perseverance and strength. It is these stories that drive our work and remind us of the immeasurable impact this work has in restoring freedom and clearing the names of those wrongfully convicted. Recent victories included:
John Galvan, Arthur Almendarez, Francisco Nanez | July 2022 | Illinois
Exonerated after the men served 105 years in prison for wrongful conviction
Cause of Wrongful Conviction: Coerced confession, eyewitness identification, junk science
John Galvan: The Innocence Project and the Exoneration Project
Arthur Almendarez: The Exoneration Project
Francisco Nanez: the Cook County Public Defender
The three men were wrongfully convicted for an alleged aggravated arson and alleged murder in the case of 1986 apartment fire on the southwest side of Chicago in which two brothers, Julio Martinez and Guadalupe Martinez, died. Mr. Galvin was just 18, Mr. Almendarez, 20 and Mr. Nanez, 22 when they were arrested and wrongly incarcerated. The men were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and could have been sentenced to death. Combined, they have spent 105 years in prison for an alleged crime they didn’t commit.
Mallory Nicholson | June 2022 | Texas
Exonerated after four decades of wrongful conviction
Cause of Wrongful Conviction: State Withheld Exculpatory Evidence
Mr. Nicholson was arrested for burglary and the sexual assault of two children in June 1982. No physical evidence connected him to the crime and he has steadfastly maintained his innocence for decades. In June, as a result of a collaboration between the IP and the Dallas County Conviction Integrity Unit, Mallory Nicholson was exonerated after he spent 21 years in prison and 19 years on parole as a registered sex offender. The IP and Dallas Conviction Integrity Unit’s reinvestigation revealed that the State withheld key evidence at trial that pointed to an alternative suspect and demonstrated inconsistencies in the victims’ identifications. Mr. Nicholson is now officially eligible for compensation for the years he lost to his wrongful conviction.
Barry Jacobson | January 2022 | Massachusetts
Exonerated after nearly four decades of wrongful conviction
Cause of Wrongful Conviction: Anti-Semitism and Jury Bias, Fabricated Evidence
On January 31, 2022, Barry Jacobson’s 1983 arson conviction in Richmond, Massachusetts was vacated, and he was exonerated after nearly four decades of wrongful conviction and a month of wrongful incarceration. Mr. Jacobson was convicted in a biased trial in which jurors made anti-Semitic remarks about Mr. Jacobson, who is Jewish. Additionally, evidence strongly indicates that a key piece of the state’s case against Mr. Jacobson was fabricated. Mr. Jacobson was offered a pardon three times if he would admit guilt, but he maintained his innocence, and his pardon was denied. In January, the Commonwealth agreed with Mr. Jacobson that his conviction should be vacated on the grounds that he did not receive a trial before an impartial jury because the jury deliberations had been infected by anti-Semitic bias.
The IP’s legal staff currently represents more than 100 clients in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Moving forward, the organization intends to increase the capacity of our post-conviction legal team.
In addition, the IP has expanded its social work program to provide holistic services to clients during and after their release. Many exonerees experience depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. A strong community support system is critical to building recovery and healing. While some exonerees it works with have these networks of support, others have lost ties with their loved ones and communities as a result of their wrongful conviction. Many exonerees also face the formidable task of rebuilding their lives and identities. Because of the increased expense of housing (and the challenges exonerees often have in finding a place to live), the IP has created a new separate housing fund to support exonerees.
Many exonerees have lived decades within the rigid confines of prison — navigating this intense transition back into the “outside world” can be distressing and disorienting. That’s why IP’s new Re-entry Coach position is so important; and why we’ve hired exoneree Rodney Roberts as the first person to fill this key role. Mr. Roberts was an IP client who was exonerated in 2018, and he has dedicated much of his time since his release to supporting his fellow exonerees and other people reentering society.
If you’d like to learn more or get involved with the Innocence Project, please visit their website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.