Ohio Innocence Project at UC celebrates 20th anniversary, hosts May 18 gala

World-renowned author John Grisham will headline the event.

The Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) at the University of Cincinnati College of Law will host a 20th anniversary gala celebration, recognizing efforts to free individuals wrongfully convicted of crimes in the state of Ohio. As part of the Rosenthal Institute for Justice within the College of Law, OIP has established itself over its first 20 years as one of the nation's most effective organizations combating the issues of wrongful convictions, with 40 Ohioans freed in the project's two decades of work.

This once in a 20-year gala event will be held at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, May 18 at Music Hall, 1241 Elm Street, located in Cincinnati’s historic Over The Rhine district. The gala celebration will feature keynote speaker, world-renowned author John Grisham; a video history covering OIP’s work, the stories of our exonerees; the organization’s impact on the innocence movement; first-hand stories about their experience from OIP Fellows; as well as an after party with The Exoneree Band, featuring OIP exoneree Raymond Towler.  

Tickets are available for purchase. Contact Mindy Roy at mindy.roy@foundation.uc.edu for more information and to inquire about sponsorship opportunities.  

About the Ohio Innocence Project

The Ohio Innocence Project, celebrating 20 years, was founded in 2003 with a goal to free every innocent person in Ohio who has been convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. Since its inception, the OIP’s work has led to the release of 40 wrongfully convicted Ohioans who collectively served more than 700 years in prison. This makes the OIP one of the top-performing members among the international innocence network.  

The OIP is Ohio’s only non-profit dedicated to freeing the innocent and preventing wrongful convictions. It operates with a three-pronged strategy: 1) informing the public of criminal justice system flaws; 2) working to improve the system; and 3) educating law students and others to be sensitive to systemic problems.  

In addition to freeing the wrongfully convicted, the OIP is a fierce advocate for lasting criminal justice reform through legislative work. The team works with Ohio’s lawmakers to pass legislation that prevents wrongful convictions in the first place and is responsible for many Ohio criminal justice reform bills being passed into law. The OIP is taking a lead in the international expansion of the innocence movement, including an effort with the United Nations to declare the rights of innocents in prison to legal mechanisms to obtain their freedom a universal human right. Finally, the organization supports OIP-u, an undergraduate advocacy arm of 12 student groups at colleges and universities across the state who spread awareness of wrongful convictions on their campuses and engage in activism.  

OIP is supported by the generosity of Lois and Richard Rosenthal whose support created the Rosenthal Institute for Justice; the ongoing support of Richard Rosenthal; hundreds of Cincinnati law students—including Innocence Project Fellows and volunteers who spend thousands of hours researching and investigating cases; a dedicated staff of trained attorneys; OIP-u students who support the work across Ohio; the Board of Advocates who support the mission; corporate and law firm friends who regularly provide financial and legal support; and the dedication of the innocent and their champions.   

Marcus Sapp, exoneree, (center) celebrating with friends and OIP Fellows

Exoneree Marcus Sapp (center) with friends and OIP Fellows.

About the University of Cincinnati College of Law

Founded in 1833, the University of Cincinnati College of Law has the distinction of being the first law school west of the Alleghenies. From humble beginnings 175 years ago in a room above Timothy Walker’s law offices to its home today, Cincinnati Law has been on the leading edge of legal education. Thousands of lawyers have graduated from the law school, and about one-third practice in the Greater Cincinnati community, working in all areas of the law. For more information about the College of Law, visit www.law.uc.edu

Featured image at the top: OIP exoneree Ricky Jackson (right) is shown with Mark Godsey, director and co-founder of the Ohio Innocence Project. Photo/provided.

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