New Rutgers Initiative Provides Services and Resources to Exempt NJ

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Rutgers-Camden is launching the New Jersey Innocence Project to help residents who have been wrongly convicted of crimes and who are now seeking exoneration. The project emphasizes the expertise of Rutgers professors in law, forensics, criminal justice and social work.

Jill Friedman, co-founder of the New Jersey Innocence Project and associate dean for pro bono and public interest at Rutgers Law School in Camden, said she is currently looking for an executive director for the project. However, they are not prepared to accept inquiries from people who claim they have been wrongly convicted and are innocent. Hopefully this will happen in the fall.

When this happens, said people can fill out a form to request that their cases be reviewed and then there will be a very comprehensive and detailed process to identify the cases that promise to lead to exoneration. They will prioritize the cases of people in prison, she added.

The National Innocence Project estimates that up to 5% of incarcerated people are serving time, some for decades, for crimes they did not commit. According to the National Exemption Registry, 42 people wrongly convicted in New Jersey have been cleared through the efforts of attorneys and innocence projects since 1989, when data began to be collected.

Friedman said the founders were deeply upset by the injustices of the justice system. Injustice has a disproportionate impact on blacks and browns as well as the poor. “If you can think of the worst thing that can happen to you in the justice system: it is that you did not commit the crime and that you are in prison as an innocent person because of mistakes or because of bad policies and procedures or because of outright corruption or someone had a vendetta against you and testified falsely, ”Friedman said.

The project will provide appeal legal services for those who have been convicted but who believe they are innocent. It will also offer social work services. Friedman said wrongly incarcerated people and their families suffer tremendously during and after incarceration.

Social work students will help clients find resources to help them make the transition to life. This includes finding a place to live, finding a job, getting a driver’s license, and getting the right advice.

“We anticipate that our clients will require medical, psychological and professional services and we hope to have significant influence on policy, law enforcement and criminal justice in the state and beyond. Rutgers is extremely well positioned. to support this type of work, ”Friedman said.

She added that there is currently no service for exonerates when they leave prison. They cannot get any services or resources available to people who have been convicted, who have served their sentence and then been released on parole.

Until the launch of this Rutgers initiative, she said New Jersey was the only state that did not have an innocence organization associated with the New York-based National Innocence Network.

The NJ attacks polluters at these 9 sites

State environmental officials are working to get several landowners to clean up their actions in New Jersey, including Middlesex, Mercer and Atlantic counties.

Illegal dumping and gas and chemical contamination of water and soil are among the issues at play in state lawsuits and court orders sought.

Seven lawsuits focused on “overburdened” communities focus on pollution in Camden, Trenton, Kearny, Secaucus, Edison, Bridgeton and Egg Harbor City, while two other cases are based in Butler and Vineland.


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