Innocence Matters

Rating: 5 stars   41 reviews

Issues: Civil Rights, Education, Crime & Law

Location: PO Box 1098 (physical address given for appointments) Torrance CA 90505 USA

Mission: We believe the innocent should not be incarcerated and when mistakes are discovered we should all join forces to correct the error and free the innocent quickly. Our work is primarily focused on the broader goals of education, prevention and reform. We are particularly interested in improving the quality of indigent defense services and implementing systemic changes that will better protect the innocent and encourage the legal community to more quickly acknowledge and correct errors. Our preventative programs are designed to bring about lasting change and provide a broad toolkit for the innocent and their attorneys.
Results: September 24, 2012: John Edward Smith was reunited with his family after serving 19 years for a murder he did not commit. October 10, 2014: Susan Marie Mellen was reunited with her family after serving 17 years for a murder she did not commit.
Target demographics: the innocent
Programs: the I Am Innocent seminar that teaches the innocent how to prevent their wrongful conviction and the Ganging Up on Innocence investigation program to help people who have already been wrongfully convicted.
2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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EIN 27-0840481
310-755-2518
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I was asked to join the Board after Deirdre O'Connor read a blog post I had written about my experience helping two wrongfully convicted men arrange their financial affairs stemming from civil lawsuits they pursued. I was unsure how much help I could be but soon was won over by Deirdre's passion and commitment to this cause. Once John Smith's exoneration was won, it all came together and I was glad I became part of this effort. When an individual publicly proclaims that "Innocence Matters saved (his) life" as John Smith has, you know you're part of something very important.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Find a way to attract more supporters who believe in this cause.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I have been involved in criminal justice issues for over 10 years, and the work that Innocence Matters does is extremely important and needed to install a level of fairness that is unfortunately missing from the current system. All one has to do is look at the most recent exoneration in Texas, where a man sat wrongfully accused for 30 years, to comprehend the important work Innocence Matters undertakes. The legal representation, research and activism the organization does is not just on behalf of the wrongfully accused but for all of us. Innocence Matters aims to build a fair and just criminal justice system and it is a mission we all should fully support.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Working with Deirdre O'Connor on the clemency campaign of Troy Anthony Davis.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Spread its mission nationally.

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I am a law student who sought work last summer with Innocence Matters; I count this as one of the best decisions of my law school career.

During my time with Innocence Matters, I personally engaged in the substantive and practical aspects of criminal defense--from interviewing witnesses to writing a habeas petition. I learned the heartbreaking results of bad lawyering and resolved to avoid a busy lawyer's common pitfalls. Innocence Matters made me a more conscientious, careful student and will surely lead to my being a better lawyer.

The preventative aspect of Innocence Matters thrills me the most. Our criminal law classes spend ample time analyzing various Innocence Projects and innocence work and I've never encountered another organization that focuses on preventing wrongful incarcerations. The importance of Innocence Matters' preventative work was thrown into sharp relief when I worked personally with an innocent person who has been wrongly incarcerated for 18 years and realized how much Innocence Matters could have helped him 18 years ago.

I was lucky enough to secure a board membership out of my summer work and plan to have a life-long connection to this great organization.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

gaining so much as a law student this summer and writing a habeas petition for an innocent, imprisoned man this fall.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

make it bigger! We are consistently growing and we do continue to drum up support but this work it worthy and vital and needs to be perpetuated through the years.

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Deirdre O'Connor, Executive Director, is the heart and soul of Innocence Matters. My association with Deirdre O'Connor is four years old now. She and I met in the Emory University Toastmasters Club where we discovered several common interests that included ending oppression, especially racism and class oppression. Since then we have both left Georgia for life in other states, yet our connection persists.

Deirdre's passion for keeping eye-witness testimony bounded by known research, thus clear in its use for determining guilt in trials, influences those who hear her speak on the topic. She knows how to guide learners (law students, friends, new acquaintances) through the clinical law arena, helping many feel competent in new skills. She is fearless in approaching the possibility for precision in legal judgments.

I am pleased to be a part of the volunteer board of Innocence Matters as it grows into a well-known non-profit organization. Not only have I been able to make contributions to the creation and growth of the organization, I have come to know several fine individuals whose paths I would not have crossed otherwise. The vision of working across state lines makes Innocence Matters’ cases important where I live in South Carolina as well as anywhere else people are wrongly charged or convicted.


I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

raising awareness of the plight of wrongly charged and convicted individuals.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

grow the board with more members from diverse backgrounds. This is an objective of the current board.

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