The Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) began in January of 2003 in response to an October 1, 2003, filing deadline for post-conviction DNA motions. Beginning with two advocates (Jennifer Greenberg and Sheila Meehan) working out of a hallway at the FSU College of Law, IPF has been screening, investigating, placing and litigating innocence cases ever since. We have to date received thousands of inquiries and/or requests for assistance.
IPF has also spent four legislative sessions at the Capitol, advocating on behalf of the innocent, so far concentrating our efforts primarily on the issues of filing deadlines and compensation for exonerees. We were quite pleased when the 2006 legislature voted to remove the deadline for filing petitions for DNA testing and the governor signed the bill into law. In 2007, legislators passed a global compensation bill that will pay $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 we will attempt to have it removed during the upcoming legislative sessions. We also plan to begin addressing remedies for the ongoing problem of wrongful incarceration.
Through the use of DNA testing, IPF helps innocent prisoners in Florida obtain their freedom and rebuild their lives. Our mission has not changed since our inception in 2003:
- Screen and investigate cases in which meritorious innocence claims are identified;
- Secure DNA testing when biological evidence exists;
- Advocate for the release of each inmate excluded from criminal responsibility by this highly critical analysis;
- Provide transitional and aftercare services to exonerees; and
- Advocate for necessary criminal justice reform to avoid wrongful incarcerations in the future.