LSU Law receives U.S. Department of Justice grant to establish Wrongful Conviction Clinic
BATON ROUGE - As an increasing number of incarcerated individuals claiming innocence are exonerated by means of willing legal experts who use DNA evidence to prove the innocence of their defendants, LSU Law has announced its intention to join the ranks of such legal experts.
LSU Law, in partnership with the Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO), has received a nearly $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to review select cases of incarcerated people who have claims of innocence.
The two-year grant establishes the Wrongful Conviction Clinic at the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center — the first clinic of its kind at a Louisiana law school — in which LSU Law students will review cases to identify those that may benefit from DNA testing.
“We are so pleased to establish this vitally important new clinic at LSU Law, which will provide our students with invaluable real-world experience working on incredibly meaningful criminal legal cases,” said LSU Law Interim Dean Lee Ann Wheelis Lockridge. “We’re honored to join forces in this effort with Innocence Project New Orleans, and we’re grateful for the support provided by the grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.”
The partnership between LSU Law and IPNO will expand IPNO’s capacity to review cases, locate evidence, and conduct DNA testing that may prove innocence and ultimately exonerate the innocent. It will also provide LSU Law students with a new avenue to gain practical experience working in the criminal legal system.
“As Louisiana continues to seek solutions to address its mass incarceration problem, IPNO is thrilled to partner with LSU Law and its outstanding clinical program to work to free innocent men and women from prisons,” said Jee Park, Director of IPNO. “IPNO has a proven, 20-year track record of winning freedom for life-sentenced innocent imprisoned individuals. IPNO is one of the most successful innocence programs in the country. We are eager to bring our legal experience and expertise to LSU Law and work with students seeking to understand and improve our justice system.”
As of October 2020, IPNO has already assisted in the exoneration or freeing of 36 innocent individuals who've spent a combined total of more than 873 years in prison.
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