About the Oklahoma Innocence Project
March 7, 2012
WHAT IS IT?
Officially launched in August 2011, the Oklahoma Innocence Project (OIP) is dedicated to identifying and remedying cases of wrongful convictions. Bringing together OCU LAW students to work with attorneys and the director, the OIP pursues only cases in which there is credible evidence of factual innocence.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Prior to the OIP opening, there were already numerous cases in Oklahoma where innocent people were exonerated. While imprisoned for a crime they did not commit, Oklahoma exonerees spent from four to twenty years behind bars. Oklahoma ranks in the top 10 in the nation in terms of the number of known wrongful convictions of innocent people.
Our criminal justice system is among the finest in the world, but it is not immune to human error. Studies show a 1.6 percent error rate nationwide for capital cases and a 3 – 4 percent error rate for other cases. No one wants to see the wrong person convicted for a crime they did not commit. We all have an interest in correcting wrongful convictions when they occur, and pursuing the actual guilty party.
HOW WILL STUDENTS BENEFIT?
Innocence Projects have had a powerful impact on the lives of law students. The learning experience is valuable for future prosecutors, future criminal defense attorneys, and even future corporate attorneys.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS
• There have been 273 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the U.S.
• Exonerations have been won in 34 states, including Oklahoma
• The average length of time served by exonerees is 13 years
• The average age of exonerees at the time of their wrongful conviction was 27
• The true suspects and/or perpetrators have been identified in 124 of the DNA exoneration cases
• Leading Causes of Wrongful Convictions: Eyewitness Misidentification Testimony, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science, False Confessions and Incriminating Statements, Informants