NCIP exonerees and friends celebrate freedom onstage at NCIP's 2016 Justice for All Awards Dinner as San Francisco 49ers champion Ronnie Lott (left) encourages the crowd to celebrate the victories that were achieved together. Photo: Greg Pio


Letter from the Executive Director

I just walked out of a meeting to discuss NCIP’s review of hair analysis cases.

If you haven’t heard what’s happening on hair analysis, you will be shocked. In this issue of our quarterly e-newsletter, we provide insight into the “oops” moment that led the FBI Director to send a letter to all  U.S. Governors alerting them to widespread mistakes made in the training and in-court testimony of hair comparison experts for over two decades.  Check out the In the Know section for more details.

This dramatic acknowledgement of error has led NCIP to launch a review of more than 1,000 California cases (so far) in which flawed hair analysis may have been material to convictions. We have not yet scratched the surface – there are many more cases to come.

The work is painstaking - and overwhelming.  We have mobilized volunteer attorneys, SCU student research fellows, and NCIP staff to screen cases and advance them as quickly as possible. We have diverted resources to accommodate this new scope of work. We have put systems in place and standards for review. And we continue to find more cases every day. We are deeply concerned; these “mistakes” in hair analysis have surely resulted in innocent people being sent to prison – our job is to find them and to free them.

As you read the newsletter and learn more (not only about the hair cases, but also about forward movement in our cases, policy developments, and reflections from people involved in NCIP’s work), we hope you will support our efforts – and spread the word.

Five months into my tenure as NCIP’s executive director my head is spinning. The hair analysis scandal is only the latest in a series of “mistakes” which have recently come to light in the field of forensic science. As time passes, we will undoubtedly see more – and NCIP will work as quickly and effectively as possible to free the innocent people who have suffered as a result.  

Thank you for your commitment to this work and for your support for NCIP.


In the Know: FBI Admits Flaws in Hair Microscopy Testimony
Thousands of inmates may have been wrongfully convicted due to junk hair science the FBI used for more than two decades. In the wake of this revelation, NCIP is taking action in California. More>>


To help offset the immediate costs of identifying and reviewing the hundreds of flawed hair analysis cases in California, we need your help.  In order to fund the first level of hair analysis work, NCIP seeks to raise $15,000. Funds will support obtaining the case files, lab reports, and transcripts needed to review the more than 1,000 cases in the queue so far.  Every dollar counts. Please donate to support our efforts and forward the link to this Razoo crowdfunding campaign.




NCIP Cases Progress in Agencies and Courts
Exonerating wrongfully convicted inmates and protecting the rights of the innocent are the core of NCIP’s work. NCIP currently maintains an active caseload of approximately 50 cases.  Following is an update on some of our cases in litigation. More>>


NCIP-sponsored Bills Pass First Hurdle and Advance to Next Steps in the Legislative Process
Two NCIP-sponsored California state Senate bills to help exonerate innocent prisoners and prevent future wrongful convictions recently passed unanimously in the California Senate Public Safety Committee. What are the next steps in the process for these important bills to become laws? More>>


NCIP Students Educate the Santa Clara University Community on Pohlschneider Case
On April 12, 2016, nearly 100 people filled a classroom in Santa Clara Law's Bannan Hall to hear four NCIP students recount their roles in Larry Pohlschneider's exoneration. More>>


Featured Stories

Exoneree Spotlight:  Rick Walker Builds Community One Tiny House at a Time
Exoneree and NCIP board member Rick Walker has rebuilt his life by building cars, tiny homes and a reputation as a humanitarian through his efforts to improve other people's lives. More>>


Perspectives: NCIP Volunteer Attorney Karyn-Sinunu Towery
"I was fortunate to have a very gratifying 30-year career at the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office trying cases and supervising divisions. For most of my career, I was convinced that an innocent person could never be convicted of murder by any office, let alone mine. I was wrong." More>>


2016 Justice for All Awards Dinner Honors and Inspires
San Francisco 49ers Ronnie Lott and Harris Barton hosted NCIP's 2016 Justice for All Awards Dinner, welcoming nearly 300 supporters who celebrated the work of 16 inspiring exonerees and justice champions. Honorees included Maurice Caldwell, Jason Bussey, Patrick King, Dean Strang, and Elizabeth Zitrin.  More>>


Around the Network: NCIP Team Engages in Knowledge-Sharing at Innocence Network Conference
On April 7, nearly 600 exonerees and innocence advocates descended upon San Antonio, Texas for the 2016 Annual Innocence Network Conference. Among them were a contingent of 13 NCIP attorneys, staff and exonerees, whose considerable involvement was felt throughout the three-day event. More>>


NCIP In the Headlines


• NCIP Executive Director Hadar Harris was featured in Panel to Consider Innocence Project Bills in the San Jose Mercury News.

• Exoneree and NCIP advisory board member Rick Walker was featured in Groundbreaking Report on the Cost of Statewide Wrongful Convictions on KTVU Fox 2.

• NCIP exoneree Maurice Caldwell, advisory board member Elizabeth Zitrin and other Justice for All honorees were featured in Northern California Innocence Project is a True David and Goliath Story in the San Jose Mercury News.

• NCIP Policy Director Lucy Salcido Carter, exonerees Maurice Caldwell and Ronald Ross, and advisory board member Rick Walker were featured in The Crazy Injustice of Denying Exonerated Prisoners Compensation, in San Francisco Magazine.

• NCIP Exoneree Larry Pohlschneider and Assistant Legal Director Maitreya Badami were featured in Red Bluff Man Details Path to Innocence in the Record Searchlight.

• NCIP Legal Director Linda Starr was featured in Man Exonerated after 18 Years in Prison Discusses Case, Life after his Release, in Lake County News.