Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project

Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (MAIP) is dedicated to correcting and preventing the conviction of innocent people in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
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The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project is a non-profit organization that provides free investigative and legal assistance to people who have been convicted of crimes they did not commit in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. The Project was founded in 2000 and has in-house attorneys and an investigator who investigate cases and represent individuals with pro bono lawyers.

The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project is a non-profit organization that provides free investigative and legal assistance to people who have been convicted of crimes they did not commit in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. The Project was founded in 2000 and has in-house attorneys and an investigator who investigate cases and represent individuals with pro bono lawyers.

Operating as usual

Last month, 54 police officers, judges, prosecutors, and federal agents across the country sent a letter to Congress urg...
04/20/2021
Police Group Says Qualified Immunity Makes Americans ‘Less Safe’ | The Crime Report

Last month, 54 police officers, judges, prosecutors, and federal agents across the country sent a letter to Congress urging legislators to end the practice of granting qualified immunity to law enforcement agents accused of misconduct.

“We believe it is crucial to end a legal doctrine that has contributed to the erosion of public trust in the justice system and made all of us less safe,” the letter said.

Communities fear and distrust police not because they make mistakes, but because they are rarely held legally accountable for them, writes a 21-year police veteran who heads the Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

Our client, Matt Horner, was released one year ago. A federal judge reversed Matt’s conviction in February 2020. He was ...
04/16/2021

Our client, Matt Horner, was released one year ago. A federal judge reversed Matt’s conviction in February 2020. He was released while the state is appealing its case against him. We are confident that they are wasting their time and taxpayer's money.

He sent us this today. The caption is his words.

Our client, Matt Horner, was released one year ago. A federal judge reversed Matt’s conviction in February 2020. He was released while the state is appealing its case against him. We are confident that they are wasting their time and taxpayer's money.

He sent us this today. The caption is his words.

Victory in Maryland!Maryland Governor Larry Hogan today signed into law legislation to fix the state’s compensation syst...
04/13/2021

Victory in Maryland!

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan today signed into law legislation to fix the state’s compensation system for wrongfully convicted Marylanders. The legislation, known as “The Walter Lomax Act,” passed the House and the Senate unanimously last month thanks to champions in the legislature, Senator Kelley and Delegate Dumais.

Prior to the signing of this new law, few exonerees had been compensated, and for those compensated, it was a long and challenging process.

Victory in Maryland!

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan today signed into law legislation to fix the state’s compensation system for wrongfully convicted Marylanders. The legislation, known as “The Walter Lomax Act,” passed the House and the Senate unanimously last month thanks to champions in the legislature, Senator Kelley and Delegate Dumais.

Prior to the signing of this new law, few exonerees had been compensated, and for those compensated, it was a long and challenging process.

In Maryland, if you’re wrongfully convicted it’s difficult to impossible to get any kind of compensation for your time s...
04/13/2021
A bill to help the wrongfully convicted

In Maryland, if you’re wrongfully convicted it’s difficult to impossible to get any kind of compensation for your time served.

There are about 20 people this will immediately impact who have been waiting for compensation.

While the bill still needs to be signed by the Governor, the Innocence Project says this is a win that shouldn’t have taken this long.

For Walter Lomax, the journey to compensation for his wrongful conviction has been long.

In Maryland if you’re wrongfully convicted it’s difficult to impossible to get any kind of compensation for your time served.

A Florida appeals court panel ruled Tuesday that a state law intended to protect victims of crime can also be invoked by...
04/12/2021
Florida Cops Use a Victims' Rights Law To Conceal Their Names

A Florida appeals court panel ruled Tuesday that a state law intended to protect victims of crime can also be invoked by police officers to keep their names from being released to the public when they use deadly force on the job.

The ruling is part of a recent trend in which some police officers and their unions use "Marsy's Law" to conceal information from the public, particularly when there are questions or criticisms about whether the use of force was justified. Marsy's Laws, which are voter-passed initiatives that began in California and have spread to nine other states, aim to give crime victims more say in court proceedings and shield their identities from public disclosure.

Poorly written “Marsy’s Law” may keep citizens from knowing which officers are using deadly force on the job.

Happy National Siblings Day to Eric and JR! They each served more than 25 years behind bars for a crime they did not com...
04/10/2021
Kenneth “JR” McPherson & Eric Simmons

Happy National Siblings Day to Eric and JR! They each served more than 25 years behind bars for a crime they did not commit. They were exonerated and have now been free for nearly two years.

“I was in a pool, a swimming pool, and I was drowning. You saved my life.”

People who are not prosecuted for misdemeanors are much less likely to find themselves in a courtroom again within two y...
04/09/2021
Perspective | Prosecuting low-level crimes makes us less safe

People who are not prosecuted for misdemeanors are much less likely to find themselves in a courtroom again within two years. Entanglement with the legal system itself seems to be a risk factor for future criminal prosecution.

A "natural experiment" allowed researchers to test whether mercy has a dividend.

Baltimore entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2017 after an investigation found the pol...
04/08/2021
Baltimore voters to decide on taking back full local control of the city police department

Baltimore entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2017 after an investigation found the police department routinely violated residents’ civil rights, especially in poor and predominantly minority neighborhoods. Under the terms of the agreement, the department must implement reforms and report regularly to a federal judge and an independent monitoring team.

The question will appear on ballots in either 2022 or 2024 after legislation setting up the referendum on the status of the Baltimore Police Department sailed through the Maryland General Assembly.

On this date, five years ago, the Virginia Supreme Court granted Keith Harward's writ of actual innocence, and he was re...
04/07/2021
Keith Harward

On this date, five years ago, the Virginia Supreme Court granted Keith Harward's writ of actual innocence, and he was released from prison after serving 33 years for a crime he did not commit.
https://exonerate.org/all-project-list/keith-harward/

"Best part is being out with my family. Worst part is some of my families are not here." —Keith Harward, on being free

SUCCESS! Governor Ralph Northam signed into law legislation that will make criminal investigative files in closed cases ...
04/01/2021
New Legislation Allows for Public Access to Police Investigative Records

SUCCESS! Governor Ralph Northam signed into law legislation that will make criminal investigative files in closed cases accessible to the public. With the Governor’s signature, the law will take effect on July 1, 2021.

Governor Ralph Northam signed into law legislation that will make criminal investigative files in closed cases accessible to the public. The law, which will take effect on July 1, passed the House in February and the Senate in March. These records contain critical information that may help provide c...

Maryland lawmakers OK bill to compensate wrongly imprisoned. Call Gov. Larry Hogan and tell him to sign the Walter Lomax...
03/31/2021
Maryland lawmakers OK bill to compensate wrongly imprisoned

Maryland lawmakers OK bill to compensate wrongly imprisoned.

Call Gov. Larry Hogan and tell him to sign the Walter Lomax Act! (410) 974-3901

Maryland lawmakers have approved legislation to change how the state compensates people who have been wrongly imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit

What was left out of the training was all the issues that the entire country has been talking about for years now, which...
03/31/2021
This Georgetown Professor Became A D.C. Cop, And Wrote About It | DCist

What was left out of the training was all the issues that the entire country has been talking about for years now, which is to say issues of race and policing, issues of violence and policing. Then as now — this is 2016 that I started at the D.C. police academy — there were protests in major American cities about police killings. There was a huge debate. And we didn’t talk about that at all. And that was quite stunning to me.

Rosa Brooks says that police training needs to improve, more cops need to discuss race and violence, and defunding the police is the wrong debate to have.

Across the U.S., activists, politicians and others pushing for reform have turned their attention to the power of police...
03/29/2021
Why The Public Needs To Know More About Police Contract Talks

Across the U.S., activists, politicians and others pushing for reform have turned their attention to the power of police unions and the collective bargaining agreements that for decades have protected problem officers.

In Hawaii and across the U.S., advocates for police accountability are scrutinizing the union contracts that keep troublesome officers on the job.

Police departments around the United States operate with limited oversight — and that is a problem.It’s a problem that h...
03/26/2021
How the federal government could improve police oversight

Police departments around the United States operate with limited oversight — and that is a problem.

It’s a problem that has led to adverse outcomes for citizens, from killings to assaults to improper detention, but, far too often, little accountability on the part of police. For instance, of the 249,782 allegations of misconduct Chicago police officers faced from 1988 to 2021, only 17,130 — about 7 percent — resulted in disciplinary action, according to the Citizens Police Data Project. For about 30 percent of those officers, that discipline came in the form of a reprimand.

Two legal experts say the Voting Rights Act could be an effective blueprint for police reform.

Melvin Thomas, pictured with his attorney Booth Ripke of Nathans Biddle, was exonerated in December 2020 after having se...
03/25/2021

Melvin Thomas, pictured with his attorney Booth Ripke of Nathans Biddle, was exonerated in December 2020 after having served 19 years in prison for an attempted murder he did not commit. If you would like to help Mr. Thomas rebuild his life, please consider purchasing items for him from his Amazon wish list: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/36EEJKEI841A6

Virginia: Call Governor Northam 276-378-9266 and urge him to sign HB 2004 into law! Once law, HB 2004 would make crimina...
03/22/2021
End Secrecy Around Criminal Investigative Records in Virginia - Innocence Project

Virginia: Call Governor Northam 276-378-9266 and urge him to sign HB 2004 into law! Once law, HB 2004 would make criminal investigative records public which is key to investigating and preventing wrongful convictions.

Making police investigative files public will help prevent wrongful convictions and bring justice to victims of police abuse.

“12: that’s the number of years my dad was wrongfully imprisoned. 14: that’s the age I was the day my family was torn ap...
03/19/2021
Family of late Kansas exoneree says jailhouse informant bill could have saved his life

“12: that’s the number of years my dad was wrongfully imprisoned. 14: that’s the age I was the day my family was torn apart. 27: the age I was when the truth was finally released to the public. 108: the number of days my father was allowed to be the free, innocent man that he was, before the cancer that went undiagnosed and untreated during his wrongful incarceration took his life permanently.”

“I’m angry there’s still nothing in place to protect innocent people from this happening over and over and over again,” Pete Coones’ daughter said.

On the surface, 2021 is a volatile time to bring the show back. Violent-crime rates are half of what they were when 'Ame...
03/16/2021
The Criminal Minds of Jim and Tim

On the surface, 2021 is a volatile time to bring the show back. Violent-crime rates are half of what they were when 'America's Most Wanted' premiered. (“Is that true? I didn’t know that,” Fox’s head of unscripted content, Rob Wade, said when I pointed this out. “That’s fantastic!”) Depicting members of law enforcement as straightforward heroes doesn’t sit the same less than a year after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd. “It’s so interesting that they think they can reboot a show like that when a lot of production companies are really having to rethink the ethical dimensions of crime programming post–Black Lives Matter,” said David Schmid, a professor at the University at Buffalo who writes about crime and popular culture. “I don’t know how successful it’s going to be.”

The Clemente brothers left the FBI to become Hollywood’s go-to murder consultants. Now they’re rebooting America’s Most Wanted.

District attorney associations have been a powerful force in the criminal legal system for decades, and remain so. They ...
03/04/2021
The Carceral Force of Prosecutor Associations, Explained

District attorney associations have been a powerful force in the criminal legal system for decades, and remain so. They have used their power and influence to increase the power of prosecutors, maintain and grow the carceral state, and shut down reform efforts. But the appetite for criminal justice reform continues to grow throughout the country. There is no better evidence of the desire for change than the increasing number of elected progressive prosecutors. These prosecutors are running for office on platforms of reducing the use of incarceration—and they are winning.

Prosecutor associations consistently wield their policy influence to oppose the growing movement for criminal justice reform.

In the year since he walked out of a state prison, a free man for the first time in his adult life, Travion Blount has a...
03/03/2021
Once sentenced to die in prison for a teenage crime, Travion Blount celebrates his first year of freedom

In the year since he walked out of a state prison, a free man for the first time in his adult life, Travion Blount has accomplished several key firsts.

He applied and was hired for a job — and then three others. He got his license and learned new technology. He’s also been catching up with family and working out, often running up and down Mount Trashmore.

“I can put all my thoughts and dreams into action,” Blount said with a smile Friday from his home in Virginia Beach.

In the year since he walked out of a state prison, a free man for the first time in his adult life, Travion Blount has accomplished several key firsts. He applied and was hired for a job — and then three others. He got his license and learned new technology. He’s also been catching up with famil...

"This legislation is a key step towards the larger goal of transparency, accountability and accuracy in our justice syst...
03/01/2021
Opinion: Virginia must bolster access to police investigations

"This legislation is a key step towards the larger goal of transparency, accountability and accuracy in our justice system. The state has an opportunity to shed light on investigations and enhance public safety by passing HB2004."

This bill is now headed to the governor's desk for his signature.

Making police investigation records available for public review would bring closure to crime victims and provide better oversight of law enforcement, leaders of the Innocence Project write in a guest column.

Training algorithms on public-nuisance crimes—such as vagrancy, loitering, or public intoxication—increases the risk of ...
02/24/2021
The black box of justice: How secret algorithms have changed policing

Training algorithms on public-nuisance crimes—such as vagrancy, loitering, or public intoxication—increases the risk of racial bias. Why? Because these crimes generally depend on police presence. People call the police when their homes are broken into; they rarely call the police when they see someone drinking from an open container of alcohol, or standing on a street corner. Those crimes often depend on a police officer being present to observe them, and then deciding to enforce the relevant laws. Police presence tends to be heaviest in poor, heavily minority communities.

Crime prevention efforts increasingly depend on data analysis about neighborhoods. But there’s a lot we don’t know—and vast opportunities for bias.

Virginia is one step closer to requiring public officials to release records from closed criminal investigations, someth...
02/23/2021
Virginia Senate committee advances bill requiring police to release closed criminal investigations

Virginia is one step closer to requiring public officials to release records from closed criminal investigations, something 32 states and the federal government already do.

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology voted 8-2 to advance a bill that would broaden public records laws and stop law enforcement and prosecutors from shielding investigative files from the public. The bill passed 55-44 in the House of Delegates on Feb. 4.

In Virginia, the law lets police and prosecutors decide on whether to release criminal investigative files, and law enforcement agencies have overwhelmingly chosen to withhold these records. That would end if the bill becomes law.

In the next decade, D.C. could reduce incarceration by half, bring residents who have been in federal prisons in other s...
02/22/2021
Task Force Says D.C. Can End Reliance On Federal Prisons In 10 Years. Here's How

In the next decade, D.C. could reduce incarceration by half, bring residents who have been in federal prisons in other states back home, and replace the D.C. Jail, which has been in deep disrepair for years.

The group also says that D.C. can incarcerate as many as 50% fewer people by 2031, through a combination of criminal justice reforms and community reinvestments.

Lawmakers in the Maryland General Assembly are considering opening up internal affairs complaints and disciplinary recor...
02/19/2021
Maryland lawmakers weigh pulling back curtain on police disciplinary records

Lawmakers in the Maryland General Assembly are considering opening up internal affairs complaints and disciplinary records of police officers in the state to public scrutiny. #Maryland #MPIA
https://www.baltimoresun.com/politics/bs-md-pol-public-records-police-20210219-j2htkaf4vnhjlfpkg5k56uqzee-story.html

Lawmakers in the Maryland General Assembly are considering opening up internal affairs complaints and disciplinary records of police officers in the state to public scrutiny.

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The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (MAIP) is dedicated to correcting and preventing the conviction of innocent people in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

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