The Illinois Innocence Project (IIP) conducts research and investigative activities for attorneys representing convicted inmates in cases where there is a strong likelihood that the individuals, even though convicted, are actually innocent.

The Project concentrates its efforts on individuals who, without the assistance of the Project, are likely to remain wrongfully incarcerated for life or a substantial number of years.

The Project provides assistance using students, faculty, investigators, attorneys and others willing to work to exonerate these individuals.

The IIP reviews cases where the applicant claims to be actually innocent of the crime(s) for which he or she is convicted.

In order to challenge a conviction, there must be substantial new evidence to support a claim of innocence. This newly discovered evidence could be physical evidence that was not previously subjected to forensic examination, such as DNA testing. Newly discovered evidence may also include non-physical evidence. We investigate cases where there is a substantial chance new evidence can be discovered.

Cases we Take

We are unable to represent all applicant who apply to our project; we are only able to become involved in a select number of cases.

The IIP may consider your case only if EACH of the following is true:

  • The conviction is for a felony crime committed in the state of Illinois.
  • You have eight (8) or more years left to serve on your sentence.
  • You are claiming actual innocence in the case for which you are currently serving your sentence. Your claim cannot be based upon:
    • Insanity
    • Intoxication
    • Self-defense
    • That you were a minor actor in the crime
    • Admitting consensual sex
    • Wanting a sentence reduction
    • The belief that you should have been convicted of a different crime.
  • You are not currently represented by an attorney.
  • You are not currently awaiting trial or pursuing your direct appeal.

The detainee can request assistance by mail. The letters should clearly state the crime for which he is charged, the county of the offense, and the time remaining on the sentence. In addition, complete information on the detainee must be provided.

Any lawyer who believes in the innocence of the detainee and wishes to request assistance from the IIP can fill out the  "Referential Form of Cases for Lawyers" (pdf)  and send it to our offices.

Assistance requests and referral forms should be sent to the following address.

Illinois Innocence Project

Institute for Legal Policy Studies

University of Illinois Springfield

One University Plaza, MS PAC 451

Springfield, IL 62703-5407

After receiving the lawyer's request, we will contact you immediately. Keep in mind that the project is working at full capacity, and it may take time to accept new cases.