Innocence Project®

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The Duke Law Innocence Project logo

The Duke Law Innocence Project® is a volunteer student organization that works to exonerate victims of wrongful convictions by investigating claims of actual innocence and presenting conclusions to the Project leadership and faculty advisers.

The DLIP also engages in policy reform advocacy and outreach to the community in education. The organization also helps its exonerees in their reintegration to society. For more information and to become involved, please email


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Active Investigations

The Active Investigations team consists of six smaller teams that investigate claims of actual innocence by NC inmates. Following the initial screening by the Jail Mail team and the return of questionnaires, members of the Active Investigations teams review the questionnaires, perform additional research, prepare memoranda, and present their conclusions to Project leadership and faculty advisers. Cases accepted by the professors following this process are transferred to the Wrongful Convictions Clinic for further investigation and action. Students may have the opportunity to review case files, write chronologies and memos, interview witnesses, and visit individuals who are making the claim of innocence.

Reintegration and Special Projects

The Reintegration & Special Projects team is focused on supporting exonerees.  We issue a questionnaire to past clients to assess how we can best help them and communicate with past clients and their families to provide ad hoc support with reintegration. We aim to compile a database of information about resources that could help support exonerees.  We will also mail cards to past clients on special occasions such as birthdays and holidays. The team also engages on other special projects as needed.


The Events team is responsible for planning and facilitating all Duke Law Innocence Project events from start to finish (planning stage, funding requests, execution), scheduling around one event per month with major events including Wrongful Convictions Day and DLIP's annual Thanksgiving Event. The team’s goal is to promote awareness of the issues at the heart of the DLIP and connection with other Duke Law organizations and the greater Durham community.

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The Communications team writes, edits, and publishes the group’s periodic internal newsletter, creates graphics for and manages the organization’s social media accounts, and handles production of the Voices of Innocence Podcast. The newsletter will highlight upcoming events and notable work of the organization, and social media will be used to promote our work and increase the Project’s reach. The team will also begin the second season of DLIP’s Podcast. The previous season focused on Dontae Sharpe, an exoneree of the Innocence Project, while this upcoming season will focus on broader issues in criminal law. Podcast members of the team will work on ideas and research for the upcoming season and production and episode planning.

Jail Mail

The Jail Mail team screens jail mail, or letters from inmates, and responds accordingly. If someone writes in from a North Carolina prison and has a claim of actual innocence, we send them a questionnaire to receive more information and pass that along to the active investigations team. We are the first point of contact for individuals seeking assistance from DLIP.

Public Policy

The Policy team is divided into smaller teams that research and draft memoranda on policy issues related to wrongful convictions. The team also drafts policy proposals based on their research. The team collaborates with the Active Investigations team to identify issues and works with the Events and Communications teams to educate the community on these issues. Further, the team engages in advocacy in the local and broader community regarding issues related to wrongful convictions.