What is the Midwest Innocence Project? How did it get started?
The Midwest Innocence Project (MIP) was founded at the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law in 2000. MIP is dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, and Nebraska. Today, we operate as an independent organization in partnership with UMKC, MU, KU, the Nebraska Innocence Project, the Innocence Project of Iowa, the Iowa State Public Defender’s Wrongful Conviction Division, and other regional organizations and universities. The Midwest Innocence Project is a member of the Innocence Network. Read more here.
How do I ask MIP to help with a particular case?
To submit a case, please have the inmate complete and return our questionnaire.
- For cases in Missouri, Kansas, or Arkansas, click here.
- For cases in Nebraska, click here.
- For cases in Iowa, click here.
We ONLY accept cases where:
- The applicant is claiming actual innocence, in other words, that he/she did not participate in the crime.
- The applicant was convicted in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, or Arkansas.
- The applicant has more than seven years left to serve on his/her sentence and/or the applicant must register as a sex offender after release.
- The applicant is not currently represented by an attorney and has exhausted all appeals.
- The applicant has NOT received the death penalty.
NOTE: We do NOT accept cases with claims of self-defense, intoxication, insanity, or consensual sex.
How is the Midwest Innocence Project funded?
The Midwest Innocence Project is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. The work we do to represent innocent defendants, promote accuracy in forensic science, and advocate for better policies is all possible because of donations from people like you. In addition to your generous contributions, we also get funding from Department of Justice Grants and in-kind contributions. To support our work and help free the innocent, please click here.
How is the Midwest Innocence Project related to the Innocence Project?
The Midwest Innocence Project is a member of the Innocence Network, an affiliation of independent organizations working to overturn wrongful convictions and improve the criminal justice system. There are nearly 70 independent organizations around the world who are involved in the Innocence Network. The organizations vary in size, scope, and criteria for case acceptance, but all coordinate to share information and expertise.
How many innocent people are there in prison?
We will never know for sure, but studies estimate that between 2% and 7% of all prisoners in the U.S. are innocent and that 1 in 25 death row inmates is innocent. For context, if just 1% of all prisoners are innocent, that would mean that more than 20,000 innocent people are in prison. This means that somewhere between 2,000 and 7,000 men and women in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Arkansas are locked behind bars this very moment for crimes they did not commit. Currently, we have approximately 600 people on our waitlist. If these estimates are accurate, our waitlist is significantly below the number of innocent people incarcerated in our region.
How can I donate to the Midwest Innocence Project?
You can make an online donation to MIP here. Or, you can donate by mail: Midwest Innocence Project, 605 West 47th St., Suite 222, Kansas City, MO 64112.
How do you decide who to represent?
After an application has been accepted by meeting our initial criteria, we gather case documents, including trial transcripts, police reports, lab reports, and appellate briefs. These documents are thoroughly reviewed and indexed by volunteer attorneys to create a full picture of what happened in a particular case. Once this screening review is completed and the results are evaluated by legal staff, we determine whether we might be able to undercover new evidence through investigation, such as evidence that could be submitted for DNA testing, recantations, misconduct, etc. We conduct a thorough fact investigation, and if we can find a way to prove innocence, we agree to represent the applicant in court and advocate for exoneration.