Lewis and Clark Law School and the Metropolitan Public Defender, a Portland-based nonprofit law firm, are getting together to create a group to work on exonerating people who’ve been wrongfully imprisoned.
The Oregon Innocence Project’s mission is to exonerate the innocent, educate and train law students, and promote legal reforms aimed at preventing wrongful convictions.
Washington, California and Idaho each have similar organizations. But Lewis and Clark Law School Associate Professor Aliza Kaplan said Oregon has lacked such a project.
“What that means is, we have no organized body or organization taking claims from prisoners who claim innocence, taking their letters, litigating them when appropriate,” she said. “And we have no one working to address some of the causes of wrongful convictions that we’ve learned about through the over 1,300 wrongful convictions in this country.”
Michael Kron of the Oregon Department of Justice said the agency has great confidence in the justice system, but that no system is perfect. And he said that in cases where there’s reason to think the wrong person may be behind bars, a responsible and prudent advocate would be welcome.