The Arizona Justice Project

2020 AJP Staff Photo

We seek justice for the innocent and the wrongfully imprisoned – the marginalized and forgotten of Arizona’s Criminal Justice System.

The Arizona Justice Project was established in 1998 and became the fifth organization in the United States created to help inmates overturn wrongful convictions. Today, there are close to 70 similar organizations worldwide.

Indigence is frequently associated with injustice and the quality of justice suffers as a result. To prevent denial of access to justice, members from the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice founded the Arizona Justice Project in 1998. Its mission is to represent indigent Arizona inmates whose claims of innocence or manifest injustice have gone unheeded. Every time an accused goes to prison without having received a fair trial, we are one step closer to the loss of our own freedoms. In fact, there is no greater punishment than that imposed on the innocent.

 

Cases of Innocence and Manifest Injustice

The Arizona Justice Project reviews and assists in Cases of Actual Innocence or cases in which a Manifest Injustice has occurred. To date, the Arizona Justice Project has received over 6,000 requests for assistance, and currently has between 40 to 50 cases in post-conviction relief proceedings under the supervision of a review team. Oftentimes, the Arizona Justice Project is a last resort for men and women who have been failed by our justice system. Their voices would go unheard and sadly, many innocent people would remain wrongfully behind bars without the hard work of our Arizona Justice Project staff and volunteers.

 

Staff and Volunteers Working Together

Our review teams generally consist of an Arizona Justice Project staff person or a volunteer lawyer supervisor paired with law students from the Arizona State University College of Law and the University of Arizona College of Law. In addition, the Arizona Justice Project is fortunate to have the help of some of the best investigators in Arizona who spend countless hours tracking down vital information, witnesses, and evidence in our cases.

 

Educating The Public

In an ongoing effort to both correct past injustices and prevent future wrongful convictions, the Arizona Justice Project distributes a newsletter to help educate the public on the misconceptions surrounding wrongful convictions. It also keeps our supporters updated on our various cases under review, CLE events, legislative projects, groundbreaking forensic science and much more. Please subscribe to our newsletter by entering your email address at the bottom of this page.

 

Here are some more interesting facts about the Arizona Justice Project:

  • The Arizona Justice Project enjoys a collaborative relationship with Arizona’s two law schools. The Arizona Justice Project receives the benefit of a close relationship with the law schools’ nationally recognized experts in forensic science and DNA. The Arizona Justice Project works hand-in-hand with the Post-Conviction Clinic at ASU and the Wrongful Conviction Clinic at UofA.
  • From 2008 to October 2013, the Arizona Justice Project partnered with the Attorney General’s Office and the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission to undergo post-conviction DNA testing in cases of forcible rape, murder, and non-negligent homicide cases where the testing might demonstrate actual innocence.
  • In January 2015, the Arizona Justice Project implemented a second grant from the National Institute of Justice to review DNA cases. This program was a joint effort between the Arizona Justice Project, ASU College of Law, and UofA College of Law.
  • In March 2018, Arizona Justice Project and the ASU Post-Conviction Clinic began working as part of an innovative statewide hair-review Task Force funded by the NIJ. This effort, which grew out of the Arizona Forensic Science Advisory Committee, also includes Arizona DPS Crime Lab, the Phoenix Crime Lab, Arizona Attorney General’s Office, and the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission. The hair-review Task Force will examine hundreds of convictions where hair microscopy was used against the defendant. Where identity may be at issue, DNA testing can now be used to resolve a claim of innocence.
  • Most of the Arizona Justice Project’s cases do not involve DNA, or the DNA would not provide convincing evidence of guilt or innocence.

 

Not For Profit

The Arizona Justice Project is a Not For Profit, charitable organization formed under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Our EIN is 86-1004924. Donations to the Arizona Justice Project are tax-deductible as charitable contributions for U.S. federal income tax purposes. There are no donation limits or restrictions on contributions to the Arizona Justice Project.

To view a copy of our most recent Form 990, please click here.

Application Process

Who Qualifies?

The Arizona Justice Project takes cases of actual innocence or cases in which some clear manifest injustice has occurred in Arizona. To qualify for review by the Arizona Justice Project, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. You are serving time on an Arizona conviction or a federal conviction stemming from an incident in Arizona, and
  2. You have a claim of actual innocence or manifest injustice, and
  3. You are not currently represented by an attorney or entitled to an attorney at public expense.

If you are not sure whether you or a family member or friend qualifies for review, please feel free to contact us.

Application Process:

To request help from the Arizona Justice Project, you must first complete our preliminary questionnaire, which can be found below. The purpose of the preliminary questionnaire is to determine whether any conflict exists.

Once we have determined there are no conflicts, we will send a more comprehensive questionnaire that collects important information about your case that will assist in our review. You must also sign the last page of the questionnaire, which authorizes the Arizona Justice Project to speak with the prior attorneys involved in your case. Once a completed questionnaire is received, your case will undergo an initial screening process. If there are issues that we believe require further investigation, your case will be assigned to a lawyer supervisor, who may work with law student volunteers or other volunteers, to determine the merit of legal issues for post-conviction relief, clemency, habeas corpus relief, and decide if the Arizona Justice Project will be able to take your case.

Please be aware that due to our limited resources, this review process could take several months, and several years if the case is accepted to proceed through the courts or before the Board of Executive Clemency. We work as quickly as possible to respond to all requests and evaluate cases.

Download the Arizona Justice Project Preliminary Questionnaire: