The Innocence Project is an organization which advocates on behalf of wrongly convicted inmates. Nearly 400 innocent people who were serving long sentences now walk free, including 20 inmates on death row. The project has also helped track down more than 150 criminals. And the group’s work has resulted in the exoneration of people in 37 states. The organisation was founded by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, who banded together in 1992. In the wake of a study that found that incorrect identification by eyewitnesses was a factor in more than 70 percent of wrongful convictions, this organisation came into being.
Scheck and Neufeld, who hold honorary degrees from the Northeastern University’s School of Law, will visit their alma mater to discuss how the report established a blueprint for forensic science research and spurred science-based criminal justice reforms. The report is credited with putting the general perception of forensic evidence’s reliability under scrutiny. The report also acknowledged the limitations of commonly used forensic techniques, such as bite mark analysis, microscopic hair analysis, and fingerprint examination.
The progress that it set in motion cannot be understated as quoted by Neufeld in a post on the Innocence Project website. Also, it is not an exaggeration to say that the report has freed innocent people and saved lives. Hence, now, the Northeastern’s Barnett Institute for Chemical and Biological Analysis and the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice have selected Scheck and Neufeld as recipients of their Richard Saferstein Award in Forensic Science.