IPF provides representation to individuals in their effort to prove their innocence and does so at no cost to the innocent inmate. Annually IPF processes nearly 1,000 requests for assistance from inmates and their families, and the project is currently litigating more than three dozen cases with hundreds more in various stages of review and investigation.
IPF has secured the release and exoneration of a number of innocent individuals from Florida’s prisons, including achieving the exoneration of James Bain, whose 35 years of wrongful incarceration is longer than that of any DNA exoneree in the United States. In total, Florida has freed 20 men after DNA testing proved their innocence. Collectively, they spent nearly 440 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. They also spent, on average, more than two decades locked away from their families and loved ones.
Each year IPF works with the Florida Legislature and other policy-making entities to reform the criminal justice system. Several key milestones include:
In 2006 the Legislature voted to remove the deadline for filing petitions for DNA testing and the Governor signed the bill into law
In 2007 the Legislature passed a global compensation bill that pays $50,000 for each year of wrongful incarceration. Unfortunately, the bill also includes a so-called “clean hands” provision that excludes from payment anyone with a prior felony conviction or a felony conviction received while wrongfully incarcerated. No other state with a compensation law has such a provision, and IPF will continue working to have it removed during upcoming legislative session.
In 2010 Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte wrote a petition to the Florida Supreme Court requesting the formation of the Florida Innocence Commission. IPF supported the formation and the legislative funding of the Commission, whose mission was to identify the causes of wrongful conviction and make recommendations to alleviate future wrongful convictions. IPF has worked with the Commission at every opportunity.
In 2011, on the recommendation of the Innocence Commission, IPF supported, albeit unsuccessfully, the passage of uniform statewide reforms to how law enforcement perform eyewitness identification procedures.
In 2012, with support and advocacy from IPF, the Supreme Court of Florida adopted a new standard jury instruction applying the eyewitness evidence in criminal cases.
IPF Exoneree William Dillon at his release.