We know how hard it is to prove someone’s innocence once they are convicted of a crime, which is why we work with governments in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia to reform the justice system.
District of Columbia
In 2004, MAIP worked with the Public Defender Service and DC Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to help pass a law requiring the mandatory recording of interrogations in DC. That year, MAIP also teamed up with them to advocate for the DC Innocence Protection Act. This act established the right to evidence preservation, post-conviction DNA testing, and claims involving any new evidence of innocence in DC.
In 2014, the District of Columbia expanded the right to post-conviction DNA testing to allow for touch DNA testing. MAIP helped achieve this expansion of prisoners’ rights, but worked with the Public Defender Service and a private attorney.
In 2015, work by MAIP and other advocates helped convince the DC Council not to move forward on a bill that would have reduced compensation for DC exonerees.
The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project worked with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender (OPD), the Innocence Project, and the ACLU of Maryland to establish false confession, crime lab oversight, and eyewitness ID laws in 2008. The false confession law established a policy in Maryland favoring the videotaping interrogations in Maryland. The crime lab law established an oversight mechanism for Maryland crime labs, making them more accountable. The eyewitness ID law required written policies that adhere to best practices.
In 2014, MAIP worked with the University of Baltimore Innocence Project Clinic (UBIPC) and the Innocence Project to expand on the 2008 eyewitness ID law. That year, we also worked with UBIPC and OPD to stop a bill that would have attempted to gut the right to appeal under the Write of Actual Innocence.
MAIP also worked alongside the UBIPC and the Innocence Project in 2015 to expand Maryland’s post-conviction DNA testing statute to include testing for all violent felonies, instead of just rape, sexual assault, and homicide.
In 2016, MAIP and the UBIPC successfully stopped an attempt to undo a court decision finding that the state did not have the right to appeal when a defendant won a Writ of Actual Innocence.
In 2021, MAIP worked with the University of Virginia’s Innocence Project Clinic and the Innocence project to pass HB2004. This law made criminal investigative files in closed cases accessible to the public. The legislation changed the previous practice that allowed agencies to choose whether or not to release these files and frequently results in denials.
In 2012, MAIP worked with the Virginia Attorney General and the Innocence Project to lower the standard for a Writ of Actual Innocence, making it more achievable in the wake of the decision in the Thomas Haynesworth case. The change also allowed the Attorney General to present evidence of innocence instead of just evidence of guilt.