UC’s Ohio Innocence Project honored with citations by the Ohio Legislature

In recognition of its 20th anniversary and its mission to free the wrongly convicted in the State of Ohio, the Ohio Innocence Project at Cincinnati Law (OIP) was honored with citations by both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly for its service to the people of Ohio over the past two decades.

Ohio State Representative Cecil Thomas and Ohio State Senator Catherine Ingram, both University of Cincinnati alumni and longtime leaders in the Ohio Statehouse, presented OIP staff and policy research fellows with the citations at an October 2, 2023, event at the College of Law. Each year, October 2 is acknowledged as International Wrongful Conviction Day—a day set aside to commemorate the tragedy of wrongful convictions and the triumphs of the people who have found freedom.

Photo of OIP policy fellows, State Rep. Cecil Thomas, State Senator Catherine Ingram, and Law Dean Hamoudi.

L to R: Megan Vangilder (2L, policy fellow), Mickey McClanahan (2L, policy fellow), State Rep. Cecil Thomas, Nick Anderson (2L, policy fellow), State Senator Catherine Ingram, Dean Hamoudi, and Chase Wellman (3L, senior policy fellow). Photo: Joey Yerace

In its citation for the OIP, the Ohio Senate noted that OIP “since its inception, has attained a remarkable record of service to our state,” and “has enhanced the quality of life in our state.” It concludes with “this noteworthy group is truly deserving of high praise, and we are certain that as it maintains its unfaltering dedication to service and achievement, it will continue in its tradition of excellence that has become its hallmark.”  

The Ohio House of Representatives’ citation states “the organization’s impressive record of accomplishment readily explains why it is so widely held in high esteem." It goes on to say that “all those associated with the Ohio Innocence Project are to be commended for their foresight, dedication, and selfless donations of time, energy, and ability far beyond what was required or expected. These fine people have earned the respect and admiration of many through their tremendous advocacy, and through their commitment to reducing wrongful convictions in our state…”

“Senator Ingram, Representative Thomas, and their staffs are some of the finest public servants in the state,” said Pierce Reed, OIP’s director of Policy and Engagement. “They are deeply devoted to serving all of their constituents, including the University of Cincinnati community.” Reed continued, “Senator Ingram and Representative Thomas have been instrumental in our work at the Ohio Statehouse, including our successful efforts to restore Ohio’s state compensation system for the wrongfully convicted, as well as Ohio’s first law that requires law enforcement agents to record custodial interrogations in most felony cases. Their leadership is driven by their desire to see that justice is served for every Ohioan, including the most vulnerable among us. All of us at OIP are grateful for their many contributions, and deeply honored that they recognize the importance and impact of OIP’s work.”

I am grateful to be a part of OIP’s legislative efforts and look forward to seeing OIP’s next 20 years of advocacy.

Nick Anderson, 2L anad Research Policy Fellow

OIP policy fellow Nick Anderson, a second-year law student and a research policy Fellow, has worked closely with staff members in the offices of Senator Ingram and Representative Thomas on this project.  “Public service is not for the faint of heart. As someone who has long aimed to work in the policy arena, it was inspiring to see the level of devotion and care held by both staffs. I am grateful to be a part of OIP’s legislative efforts and look forward to seeing OIP’s next 20 years of advocacy,” said Anderson.

Founded in 2003, the OIP is one of the most successful innocence organizations in the world. OIP’s work has led to the freedom of 42 Ohioans who, despite their innocence, were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in Ohio. Those 42 people include three people who were sentenced to the death penalty, and children as young as 16 years old who spent years in some of Ohio’s most notorious prisons. In addition to OIP’s work in Ohio’s courtrooms, OIP advocates in the Ohio Statehouse for legislative reforms that help shape criminal justice policies that prevent wrongful convictions and remediate them after they occur. OIP’s work is made possible through the efforts of OIP’s donors and devoted Cincinnati Law students, who serve as fellows in OIP’s legal clinic or in the policy and engagement section, which leads the legislative reform efforts. Each student contributes hundreds of hours of their time to OIP’s efforts on behalf of the wrongfully convicted.

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.

Lead photo: istockphoto.com

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