OIP is well aware of the racial disparities in criminal justice systems, particularly in Ohio; for every 289 Caucasians, 1,625 African Americans are incarcerated. To date, the program has freed 30 Ohioans who were wrongly convicted for crimes they did not commit-almost all of whom were African American.
There is, however, little reliable data on Latinx people who may have been wrongfully convicted: one study suggests Latinxs are overrepresented in Ohio jails, but another study found that they are underrepresented. Nonetheless, this growing population has doubled in size since 2000 and is currently comprised of more than 450,000 people, which is approximately 4 percent of Ohio’s population, according to the OIP grant proposal.
One of the most important benefits of the grant funding is addressing the language barrier that many Latinx families face in a legal setting. This expansion allows the program to better understand the specific issues regarding wrongful convictions in Ohio’s Latinx and Spanish-speaking communities; it will also allow OIP to better plan for the future needs of the growing Latinx population.
“Wrongful conviction is never acceptable. It deprives not only the individual who was wrongfully convicted of his or her freedom, but also devastates that person’s family and community,” said Reed.
For the staff at OIP, justice is never served when a wrongful conviction happens, regardless of that person’s race, gender, color, ability, orientation, or legal status.
“All of us at OIP are devoted to ensuring that every innocent person who is wrongfully convicted is freed,” Reed added. “This project is one part of that commitment to fairness and justice, for all.”
The goal of OIP is simple: It seeks to free every innocent person in Ohio who has been convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. Established in 2003, the program is the only statewide organization devoted exclusively to the investigation and litigation of wrongful convictions. The 30 Ohioans it has released collectively served nearly 600 years in prison.
The Weil, Gotshal & Manges Foundation contributes to nonprofit and community-based organizations that service and work in philanthropy. The law firm itself provides legal services to companies, private equity firms, and financial institutions-it has over 1,100 lawyers across three continents and has served clients for more than 85 years. You can learn more about Weil, Gotshal & Manges here.
The Innocence Network is an affiliation of 69 organizations that provide legal services to those who are wrongfully convicted and works to remedy the causes of those convictions. Currently, it consists of 56 U.S.-based organizations and 13 international organizations. You can learn more about the Innocence Network here.
Featured image at top: from Burst.