The Wisconsin Innocence Project (WIP) is a clinical legal education program that is part of the Frank J. Remington Center at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Founded in 1998 by Law Professors John Pray and Keith Findley, WIP seeks to exonerate the innocent, educate students and reform the criminal justice system by identifying and remedying the causes of wrongful convictions. Under the supervision of WIP program attorneys, law students work to review cases, investigate and litigate claims on innocence.
WIP reviews cases where the applicant claims to be actually innocent of the crime(s) for which he or she is convicted. In order to challenge a conviction, there must be a significant chance that substantial new evidence may be found to support a claim of innocence. This newly discovered evidence (NDE) could be physical evidence that was not previous subjected to forensic examination, such as DNA testing. NDE may also include non-physical evidence, such as from an eyewitness who was previously unknown or a recantation from a victim, if such a recantation is supported by other new evidence.
WIP is unable to represent all applicants who apply. WIP has very limited resources and is only able to be involved in select number of cases.
WIP cannot help if any of the following are true:
- You are currently awaiting trial or are still pursuing direct appeal
- You are currently represented by an attorney
- You are not claiming actual innocence
- You have less than 7 years to serve of initial confinement
- You played a minor role in the crime
- You feel you should have been convicted of a different crime
- You acted in self-defense
- You claim the defense of insanity or intoxication
- You were convicted of sexual assault for an encounter that you say was consensual.
If none of the above criteria apply to your case, please follow these steps to submit your case:
- Complete the Application for Assistance. The application must be completed as fully as possible and submitted by the person claiming innocence. Please do not include any additional documents with the application.
- The completed application should be mailed to the address below. Please be aware that by submitting an application, WIP does not agree and is not obligated to represent the applicant.
Wisconsin Innocence Project
Frank J. Remington Center
University of Wisconsin Law School
975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706-1399
Please be aware, WIP cannot accept requests via phone or email.
What to expect after applying for assistance:
- Intake Review Once your application is returned to our office, it will be reviewed by our Intake Staff. Our Intake Staff reviews each application to determine if it meets certain basic program criteria. (See explanation of cases WIP accepts and does not accept above.) After our Intake Staff makes their initial determination, we will write to you and inform you of our decision. Because of the large number of requests that we receive, it may take up to six months or more for our Intake Staff to review your request.
- Wait List If our Intake Staff determines that your case warrants further review, we will place your case on our wait list. Please know that if your case is placed on the wait list, WIP does not agree to do anything other than review your case for potential meritorious claims of actual innocence. If you have upcoming court dates or deadlines, WIP is unable to assist you with these matters while your case is on our wait list. Eventually, the cases on our wait list will be assigned to law students, working under the supervision of a project attorney, for a more in-depth review. When your case is assigned to law students, they will contact you and specify what activities we agree and do not agree to perform on your behalf. Due to high demand, cases stay on our wait list for at least four years before we are able to assign them for further review.