GIP investigates post-conviction criminal cases where modern DNA testing was not available at the time of trial. If there is a compelling innocence claim and evidence remains available for DNA testing, GIP litigates to test that DNA – and prove actual innocence. We have strict acceptance criteria, all of which must be met before we can take a case.
MUST MEET ALL OF THESE CRITERIA
- The alleged crime happened in Georgia or Alabama
- All direct appeals are complete and no other attorney is working on the criminal case
- There are at least three years left on the applicant's prison sentence
- There is new DNA evidence or other biological material that can be tested to prove innocence
- The perpetrator’s identity was a key issue at the time of trial
- The applicant played any role, even a minor one, in the crime they were convicted of
- The applicant believes they are not guilty for reasons of self-defense, intoxication, or insanity
- The applicant was convicted for a sexual encounter they say was consensual
- The applicant feels they should have been charged with a different crime, or received a shorter sentence
CANNOT MEET ANY OF THESE CRITERIA
HOW TO APPLY
MAIL US A LETTER REQUESTING AN INTAKE QUESTIONNAIRE
Georgia Innocence Project
2645 North Decatur Rd
Decatur, GA 30033
- Applicant's Name
- GDC or AIS number
- Return Address
DO NOT INCLUDE:
- Any case details - we will send back a questionnaire requesting this information
- Any case documents - we might need them later, but cannot review them at this stage
- We cannot accept requests for assistance from friends or family members
- The letter must come from the convicted person themselves
- We will make exceptions if the convicted person is unable to read and write
WHY A QUESTIONNAIRE?
- The questionnaire is designed to help us determine if a case meets our basic acceptance criteria
- We use a questionnaire so that we receive consistent information from each applicant
WHEN WILL IT BE SENT?
- It takes between 2-4 weeks from the time a request is sent to when an applicant receives a questionnaire
- When sending mail to and from prison there can be a delay of several days in both directions
- We try to respond to requests within two weeks, although it may take longer if we're very busy
WHAT IF THE QUESTIONNAIRE DOESN'T SHOW UP?
- If a request for a questionnaire doesn't receive a response within 4 weeks the applicant should contact us
WE WILL SEND BACK AN INTAKE QUESTIONNAIRE
Typically we will send back a questionnaire within two weeks, however it may take longer if we're particularly busy.
FILL OUT AND RETURN THE INTAKE QUESTIONNAIRE
Write clearly using the space provided. Answer every question included in the questionnaire, even if it doesn't seem relevant.
WHAT'S IN THE QUESTIONNAIRE?
- We ask for basic information regarding the applicant's case
- The questionnaire must be filled out by the convicted person
- They should not include any additional documents or information at this time
WHAT IF THE APPLICANT CAN'T READ OR WRITE?
- They can request assistance filling out the application
HOW LONG DOES THE APPLICANT HAVE TO COMPLETE THE QUESTIONNAIRE?
- We do not have a time limit on when an application must be returned, however, the sooner we receive it, the faster we can process it
HOW WILL THE APPLICANT KNOW WHEN WE'VE RECEIVED THE QUESTIONNAIRE?
- When we receive a completed questionnaire we will send an acknowledgment within 2 weeks
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO REVIEW?
- It can take up to 6 months for us to review and reply to a questionnaire
WHY DOES IT TAKES SO LONG?
- We are a small organization with limited resources, and receive many requests for assistance - as a result it takes time for us to thoroughly review and reply to each request.
HOW DO APPLICANTS CHECK ON THE STATUS OF THEIR QUESTIONNAIRE?
- At this stage we ask that applicants DO NOT contact us regarding the status of their questionnaire, as it will only slow down our review process
- However, if we have not replied within 6 months we ask that the applicant contact us, in case our reply has been lost
WE WILL REVIW THE QUESTIONNAIRE AND REPLY VIA MAIL
It can take us up to six months to review and reply to an intake questionnaire.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How much do GIP's legal services cost?
GIP provides legal services to clients free of charge, although some clients may be asked to contribute to expenses related to investigation or testing.
With whom will GIP communicate about an applicant's case?
We will always talk with you about your case. We prefer to communicate with you in writing so that we have a record for your file, but also accept and/or make approved legal phone calls. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, we cannot at this time accept collect calls from prison, and it is our policy to not knowingly accept calls made from cell phones within prison.
We will provide non-confidential status updates to one person about your case if your case is in the litigation stage and you give us permission in writing to speak with that person. You can revoke that permission at any time. Because GIP has many clients who are seeking help, we encourage you and your family to be patient and not call or write us unless absolutely necessary.
What if a convicted person is applying from Alabama?
Alabama cases are difficult for many reasons. Post-conviction records are exceptionally hard to obtain in Alabama, and there is no specific post-conviction DNA testing statute, except in capital cases. New evidence often must be brought before a court within six months of discovery, which can be extremely difficult, and at times, impossible. Private companies control public court records in Alabama and charges exorbitant access fees, making the records virtually inaccessible to non-profits on tight budgets. Worse, sentences are very long in Alabama. Because Alabama has no local innocence project, GIP created an Alabama Initiative and started accepting cases from Alabama in 2007. GIP processes Alabama cases through the first stages with the goal of transferring the cases to pro bono Alabama criminal defense attorneys. Currently GIP is reviewing its Alabama Initiative by working with Alabama experts to address the concerns and needs of Alabama’s imprisoned innocent.