BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice has granted Louisiana State University's law center nearly $500,000 to establish a project that will allow students to identify and review cases that may have resulted in wrongful convictions.
The university's law school and Innocence Project New Orleans received the sum to jointly start a Wrongful Conviction Clinic where students can examine cases of inmates with innocence claims, The Advocate reported.
The nonprofit law office works to clear people wrongfully convicted of crimes. IPNO has freed or exonerated more than 30 innocent people since 2001, according to the group's website.
The clinic will be the first of its kind at a Louisiana law school, according to a statement from the university, which also said students will examine cases that could benefit from DNA testing potentially leading to post-conviction petitions for the defendants.
The two-year grant is limited to DNA cases where evidence was collected, IPNO Director Jee Park said.
“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,” he added.
Students are set to begin narrowing down cases and sending out records requests this spring before being educated on the science and law behind wrongful convictions and reviewing such cases next fall.
This story has been updated to correct the name of partner organization and its relationship to a separate group. The partner establishing the clinic at Louisiana State University is Innocence Project New Orleans, not New Orleans Innocence Project. The organization is not affiliated with the nonprofit legal organization The Innocence Project.