The Wisconsin Latino Exoneration Program is an initiative of the Wisconsin Innocence Project that provides legal assistance to Latino inmates in Wisconsin who have been wrongfully convicted and whose innocence can be shown by conducting DNA testing of the evidence.
Legal services are free of charge. However, it is possible that some applicants who are able may be asked to contribute to expenses.
Applying for assistance
There are three ways to obtain a free application for assistance from WLEP:
- Obtain a form from your prison library
- Download the application at the Wisconsin Innocence Project website (in English or Spanish)
- Send a written request for the form to: Wisconsin Innocence Project, 975 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI 53706
Please note that we can only help you if you have no connection to the crime for which you are in prison. We cannot help if any of the following are true:
- You are awaiting trial or still pursuing your appeal.
- You are currently represented by an attorney.
- You are not claiming actual innocence.
- You played a minor role in the crime.
- You feel you should have been convicted of a different crime.
- You claim self-defense.
- You claim a defense of insanity or intoxication.
- You were convicted of sexual assault for an encounter you say was consensual.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some common causes of wrongful conviction?
- Ineffective assistance of counsel
- Eyewitness error
- False confessions
- Flawed forensic science
- False accusation
- Official misconduct
What is DNA, and how can it help?
Each person has a unique set of DNA. Biological material like blood, semen, saliva, urine, feces, hair, teeth, bones, & skin flakes have DNA. These biological materials can be deposited on things like clothes, masks, hats, knives, cigarette butts, weapons, bullet casings, bottles, tools, windows or door knobs by a perpetrator. DNA testing of these things may help identify or exclude suspects based on their unique DNA profile.
What is biological material?
Biological material includes blood, semen, saliva, urine, feces, hair, teeth, bones, skin flakes or other materials from the body that may contain DNA. These biological materials can sometimes be found on crime scene evidence touched by the perpetrator, such as clothes, masks, hats, knives, cigarette butts, weapons, bullet casings, bottles, tools, windows or door knobs. DNA testing of this biological material may help identify or exclude suspects based on their unique DNA profile.
How do I know if there is DNA or other biological evidence in my case that can exonerate me?
If the police collected physical evidence from the crime scene that was touched by the perpetrator, there is a possibility it contains biological material that can be tested to obtain a DNA profile.
What if I don’t know if biological evidence was collected in my case?
If you are not sure whether any biological evidence was collected and still exists in your case, please submit an application and provide as much information about your case as possible so that we can determine whether DNA testing was done or could be done in your case.
Can WLEP still help me if DNA testing was already done in my case?
The WLEP initiative may be able to provide you with assistance even if DNA testing was already conducted in your case. DNA testing has advanced considerably in the last few decades and continues to evolve. If there are more advanced DNA tests available than the ones already used in your case, WLEP may be able to provide you with assistance. Also, if some crime scene items were tested but not others that could help prove your innocence, WLEP may be able to request DNA testing of those items.
How quickly can you help me?
On average, time on the waitlist is 7 years. However, if you are eligible for WLEP services, we may be able to review your case more quickly. This is not a guarantee that we can help you or that we will be able to take your case.
What if I don't speak Spanish?
To be eligible for WLEP you need only be Latino; you do not need to speak Spanish. Our staff is bilingual and can assist you in English or Spanish.