Donate for DNA Testing
Michael Saunders spent 17 years in prison until DNA testing proved his innocence and identified the real
perpetrator. Watch Michael tell his story and donate to help raise $30,000 by April 30th for DNA testing.
What You’re Saying
Yvonne V., via Facebook: “An average of almost 20 exonerees PER YEAR since 2000....how can anyone call that ‘rare?!’
The agony that someone has to go through being convicted of a horrendous crime he did not commit
in the first place and then being denied a test that could prove his innocence... It makes me feel soooo
utterly sad just thinking about this person's despair and about lives and whole families getting ruined.
Can anyone truly imagine oneself being in such a situation and STILL be against the ‘Justice For All Act?’ I
would like to appeal for more compassion for the injustice that these poor people have to endure.”
Missouri Attorney General Opposes Justice for George Allen
George Allen has served 30 years for a 1982 murder and rape in St. Louis, Missouri. Allen, who is
schizophrenic, was originally arrested because police mistook him for a convicted sex offender who was
a suspect in the case. Rather than let Allen go, they interrogated him anyway, eventually obtaining a
confession that even one of the interrogating officers now admits he has doubts about.
The Innocence Project and attorneys from Bryan Cave LLP have discovered serology evidence that
semen recovered from the robe that the victim was wearing when she was attacked didn’t match the
defendant or the victim’s known sexual partners. DNA testing has proven that other semen at the scene, which was attributed to Allen at trial, was actually from the victim's boyfriend. Lawyers also recently discovered evidence never
turned over to the defense excluding Allen and the victim’s boyfriend as the source of fingerprints or
blood evidence that was recovered at the scene. Despite this and other evidence pointing to Allen’s
innocence, most of which was concealed from his lawyers, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is
standing by the conviction and has opposed our efforts to overturn Allen’s conviction. The case is now
before a Missouri judge who will hopefully conclude that the large volume of evidence pointing to
Allen’s innocence coupled with the multiple constitutional violations demand that Allen’s conviction be
Innocence Network Conference Held in Kansas City
The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law and the Midwest Innocence Project hosted the
2012 Innocence Network Conference the weekend of March 29-31, 2012. There were more than 400
attendees, including 100 exonerees, representing more than 40 member projects from around the
world. All three new member projects — the Oklahoma Innocence Project, the New Mexico Innocence
and Justice Project and the Knoops Innocence Project of the Netherlands — were in attendance.
Workshops included guidance on organizational development, legal theory, forensic research, life after
exoneration, legislative advocacy, conducting investigations and much more. Trainers from the New
York City-based storytelling workshop “The Moth” worked with exonerees on how to tell their stories
and — for the second year in a row — the conference concluded with an exoneree lead concert.
Forensics: Facts vs. Fiction
In popular culture, especially the omnipresent hour-long television police procedural drama, forensic
science is often depicted as irrefutable evidence. But a series of recent investigative media reports
present a reality that is much more complicated.
In a joint investigation conducted by PBS’ Frontline, ProPublica and the UC Berkeley School of
Journalism, reporters found that forensic experts had contributed to wrongful convictions by presenting
their results as fact, even when using techniques and equipment that had never been validated
scientifically. Further, a former UC Berkley student working with investigators was able to receive
certification as a forensic consultant from the American College of Forensic Examiners International
(ACFEI) after taking a single, open-book, multiple-choice exam online.
The Washington Post reported that a Justice Department task force that was tasked with reviewing
shoddy work by the FBI crime lab completed its review in 2004 but never made the results public. The
Post’s investigation uncovered widespread problems with the review, which was extremely limited in
scope, and only prosecutors were notified of the results who often did nothing with the information.
Donald Gates spent 28 years in prison before DNA testing exonerated him in 2009, though prosecutors
knew for 12 years that the forensic findings that contributed to his conviction were flawed.
These reports will hopefully motivate Congress to finally take up the recommendations of a 2009
National Academy of Sciences report calling for a federal response to the lack of scientific validation and
standards in the forensic disciplines, as well as increased oversight of laboratories and certification of
Why I Give: A Donor Profile
Frances Ferris Crocker
Business Development Manager
New York, NY
While I was a freshman in college at the University of North Carolina, I worked at a death
penalty appeals firm as a legal assistant. The center handled the case of Alan Gell, who was eventually
freed on retrial after spending a decade on death row. This was my first exoneration. Before then, I
hadn’t really known that wrongful convictions happened. I was learning how the death penalty was
being applied in really unfair ways, but I couldn't comprehend wrongfully sentencing someone to death.
To realize, as a young person, that these things happen—you lose faith in the criminal justice system.
I had heard about the Innocence Project because I took an Innocence Project course in college in
which we investigated claims of innocence. So when I saw a job posting to be the special assistant
to the executive director, Maddy deLone, I applied for the job and I got it. In my second week on the
job, Jeffrey Deskovic was exonerated in Westchester County. For any IP staffer, that is a galvanizing
experience. At the end of the day, getting this person out of jail is all that matters. You know everything
that goes into it, but at the exoneration, you can just focus on this individual and the fact that they have
their life back. It validated for me that the Innocence Project has a very clear mission and that they’re
successful at meeting that mission.
I left in 2008, but I have stayed involved. I’m a member of the Young Professionals Committee, I’ve
provided pro bono assistance to the development team, and I’ve been attending the annual benefit
every year. It refreshes and re-engages me in the mission. I think it’s important to honor the new
exonerees each year, because they need to be recognized. They need that moment to heal and begin
to become a member of the community of exonerees. It’s also incredibly exciting to see every year how
more and more laws are being changed and best practices are being adopted. As a supporter, you know
that your money is going even further, because each new exoneration increases the wave of public
support and therefore the call for reforms to try to put a stop to wrongful convictions.