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Innocence Projects: Losing their Appeal?
Social Justice and Legal Education, Pages: 141 - 168
Swansea University Author: Holly Greenwood
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This chapter discusses the preliminary results from original empirical research on the development and operation of innocence projects (hereafter IPs) at universities across the UK. An IP typically refers to a university clinic where students are tasked with investigating an alleged miscarriage of j...
|Published in:||Social Justice and Legal Education|
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
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This chapter discusses the preliminary results from original empirical research on the development and operation of innocence projects (hereafter IPs) at universities across the UK. An IP typically refers to a university clinic where students are tasked with investigating an alleged miscarriage of justice. This was the first research to examine IPs in the UK and was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. In 2004, Michael Naughton created the Innocence Network UK (INUK) and established the first UK IP at the University of Bristol. INUK was established as a membership organisation for UK IPs, and between 2004 and 2014, it facilitated in the establishment of 36 projects at universities across the UK. By 2014, ten years into the movement, questions were being raised over the future of IPs; not only had they had little success in their casework but in the summer of 2014, Naughton announced that he would close INUK as a membership organisation for UK IPs. This marked the beginning of a period of uncertainty, with many questioning whether there was a future for UK IPs. This chapter was written in 2015, which was a critical time period for the UK 'innocence movement.' The chapter explores to what extent IPs might be seen to be 'losing their appeal' in the UK and examined this question in two primary ways. Firstly, drawing on available literature about UK IPs, this chapter critically analyses the IP model. It claims that UK IPs were underpinned by a distinct ideology about how a wrongful conviction should be defined and investigated; thus, when addressing whether IPs have 'lost their appeal', it is necessary to include a conceptual analysis of this question. Secondly, this chapter considered this question substantively, examining the decline in the numbers of IPs and reflecting on whether there was a future for university clinics focused on miscarriage of justice work. In order to explore these two questions, this chapter draws on interview data from sixteen current and former leaders of IPs in the UK. The chapter illustrates that the majority of participants in the research either did not identify with the original aims underpinning the IP model or had ceased to; and therefore, in a conceptual sense, we might see that UK IPs have lost their appeal. However, in a substantive sense, although there had been a decline in the numbers of IPs there were still a number of university projects continuing; thus, there appeared to be a continuing appetite for university clinics with a focus on investigating miscarriages of justice.
innocence projects, legal education, miscarriages of justice, social justice
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences