Northern California Innocence Project hopes ABC's 'Conviction' will shed light on injustice

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016
NorCal Innocence Project hopes 'Conviction' will show injustice
A new show, "Conviction," premieres on ABC Monday night and aims to shed light on its inspiration, the Northern California Innocence Project.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- A new show called "Conviction" premieres on ABC Monday night. It's about a team of lawyers investigating cases of people who may have been wrongfully convicted. The series which is shot in New York City is based on the Innocence Project, which has exonerated more than 1,800 incarcerated people.

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"The 'Conviction Integrity Unit' is given five days in which to pick a case, hash it out, and see if there was any kind of injustices that happened," said the show's star, Haley Atwell.

In reality, these kinds of organizations already exist throughout the country. They're called The Innocence Project. The Northern California Innocence Project is located at Santa Clara University and has 11 attorneys and 20 law students.

They get around 2,000 letters a year from people claiming their innocence.

RELATED: 70-year-old Joseph Sledge freed after decades in prison

"We really are looking for a strong showing of innocence and the cases that we can, we believe we can, have a fighting chance of winning," said Policy Director Lucy Salcido.

In the past 15 years, they have helped free 18 people who were wrongfully sent to prison.

"Conviction" has a forensic scientist named "Frankie." In real life, forensic scientists are essential to overturning convictions.

Through the use of DNA, attorneys Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld created the first Innocence Project in 1992.

RELATED: Man freed after DNA evidence clears him of child's murder

"DNA can be a way that we, prove that our client is innocent, but it could be a recantation by a witness," said Salido.

Man freed after DNA evidence clears him of child's murder

The Innocence Project hopes the series will shed light on how injustices happen.

"I would like for the public to support the policy initiatives that will really change how investigations are done to make it less likely that an innocent person gets convicted," said Legal Director Maitreya Badami.

"Conviction" airs Mondays on ABC7 at 10 p.m.