©michael steele

The Exoneration Initiative (EXI) is a pioneering organization that provides free legal assistance to wrongfully convicted persons in New York. We primarily focus on the most challenging cases, those that lack DNA evidence.

Our mission is simple: To exonerate the actually innocent.

Hundreds of DNA exonerations in the United States over the last 20 years have raised serious concerns about the criminal justice system's failure to protect the innocent from wrongful conviction. But the DNA exonerations are only the tip of the iceberg, representing a mere fraction of the wrongful convictions. However without DNA evidence, very few lawyers and organizations have the expertise and the resources to effectively handle these extremely difficult non-DNA cases. EXI was founded to take on this important work.

Expanding on the efforts of DNA-based organizations such as the Innocence Project, EXI is taking the Innocence Movement to the next level. When selecting our cases we apply the lessons learned from the DNA exonerations to non-DNA cases, focusing on the problems proven to cause wrongful conviction. We then approach prosecutors and Courts urging them to take a second look at convictions and undo injustices.

The Initiative comes at a time when Courts are becoming receptive to non-DNA cases. Confronted with the reality that intolerable numbers of innocent people are languishing in jail, Courts are now considering the merits of innocence claims, looking beyond overly formalistic barriers which have prevented review for decades.

EXI's staff of highly experienced lawyers and our alliances with law schools and premier New York law firms committed to pro bono innocence work, enable us to pool the legal talent and resources needed to sustain complex litigation and give the forgotten, non-DNA population the best chance of success for exoneration.

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Lavell Jones' Case in the Spotlight: Confession Reopens 1997 Murder Case in Which Two Others Went to Prison
11 February 2015

EXI client Lavell Jones was convicted of a 1997 Albany homicide he did not commit based solely on his false confession, obtained after more than 30 hours of interrogation, which he later recanted. No witnesses or physical evidence tied him to the crime. Now, another man has confessed to detectives, in detail, that he alone committed the murder for which Lavell and his codefendant were convicted. Hopefully this new development will finally ensure justice for the two men, who have maintained their innocence for the past 18 years.

Read More in the Albany Times Union

Watch Video of the News Coverage

Richard Rosario's Case in the Spotlight: Bronx man jailed for 18 years despite 13 alibi witnesses
25 November 2014

Richard is now serving the 18th year of a 25-to-life sentence for a 1996 Bronx murder which occurred when he was 1,000 miles away in Florida - an alibi confirmed by 13 witnesses. Among them: a sheriff's deputy, a pastor, and a federal corrections officer. EXI filed a motion to exonerate Richard on March 28, 2014, based on the alibi and other exculpatory evidence which was never brought out at Richard's 1998 trial. Litigation on the case is ongoing. In the meantime, Dateline NBC's Dan Slepian has been investigating the case... that Dateline episode won't air until Spring, but NBC News gave us a snapshot of what is to come when it featured Richard's case last week.

Watch the NBC News piece and read the full story