Who We Are
We come together as a foundation, believing that in unity there is strength, each bringing a set of experiences and convictions with respect to the phenomenon of wrongful convictions bound together in a common cause inspired by the namesake of our foundation. We believe we are a viable mix of individuals some of whom have toiled in various facets of the criminal justice system while others have endured the harassment and pain of police and prosecutorial misconduct as family members of those targeted, and still others having been the targets. We recognize the difficulty of the tasks before us, but we are encouraged by the rapidly increasing number of exonerations and accompanying heightened public awareness, not only in New York State, but also throughout the nation.
This foundation brings to the table a unique perspective, one capable of comprehensively dealing with the causes and necessary remedies for wrongful convictions because its familiarity with the subject is more than skin deep. We recognize and we are further encouraged by the good works and achievements of the mushrooming network of innocence projects, the overwhelming majority of which rely upon DNA testing advancements in their laudable achievements with hundreds of successes across the country. We, however, intend not only to avail ourselves of such technology, but also to pursue all available avenues of exposure and relief in pursuit of justice.
Given the fact that approximately only 10% of all cases of wrongful conviction involve preserved DNA material, it is obvious to us that there is a vast reservoir of unserved wrongfully convicted and incarcerated actually innocent individuals. While we welcome DNA testable evidence whenever it is available, we intend the following:
- Reinvestigation from scratch, including follow up on uninvestigated leads;
- Giving a second look at alternative suspects;
- Exposing junk science that was crucial to the conviction;
- Forensic fraud or error- either intentional or mistaken findings, improperly credentialed experts, and contamination;
- Discovery of exculpatory evidence;
- Uncovering withheld exculpatory evidence;
- Flawed identification procedures;
- Misidentification recantations;
- Probing of similar crimes in nearby areas.
Consistent with our mission is the understanding that the ultimate objective is to, as near possible, make the exoneree whole. And, that in reality is a two part process: 1) exoneration and release, and 2) reintegration and independence. The following areas demand attention if an exoneree is to successfully negotiate the straits between prison and independence:
- Emergency Financial Assistance;
- Temporary/Long term Housing;
- Job Placement;
- Medical and psychological attention;
- Vocational training and/or professional education;
- Personal technology;
- Social and Recreational Development;
- Referrals to competent attorney’s for civil redress;
- And any individual needs.
In short, a comprehensive package of services both in-house and in the community, intended to guarantee not merely physical freedom, but the freedom of independence. Our efforts will be guided by the real-life experiences not only of our founder, and his conversations with many other exonerees, but also our practitioners’ practical experiences in the area.
One cannot overemphasize the need to enlighten citizens and the elected representatives to the tragic reality of wrongful conviction and its frequency of occurrence. Central to the problem are the startling systemic deficiencies that permit, indeed encourage prosecutorial misconduct and wrongful convictions. The Foundation believes that one of the most effective tools to bring about increased awareness and ultimately positive change is live in-person educational forums, where possible involving exonerees. Similarly, The Foundation believes in the effectiveness of one on one lobbying of legislative representatives.