Founded in 1999, the project’s mission is to reverse wrongful convictions and help release innocent people from prison.
“In some of these cases, I have actually had judges declare my clients innocent, and yet they are still sitting in prison,” said project director Justin Brooks.
Including the “California 12,” a dozen current inmates throughout the state whose individual cases, according to Brooks, show compelling evidence of innocence.
“Each one is a different reason, but there is one common theme and that is an innocent person who has been wrongfully convicted,” he said.
Among those showing their support Saturday was Ken Marsh. He spent 21 years in prison after being convicted in the death of a child who fell off a couch and hit his head.
“It’s so easy to incarcerate somebody. It’s an act of God to get them out of prison basically. And the California Innocence Project is doing just that,” he said.
Thanks to the efforts of the California Innocence Project, new evidence proved Marsh’s innocence. He has been free since 2004 and is now living in Colorado.
“Every day you spend in prison an innocent person just takes a day away from your life you never should have lost in the first place,” said Marsh.
NFL football player Brian Banks knows this all too well.
Last year, the Innocence Project made international headlines when it succeeded in getting his conviction on rape charges overturned, after he had spent five years behind bars for a crime he did not commit.
Just this month, Banks signed with the Atlanta Falcons.
“The idea we could exonerate a guy and get his entire life back, and now he’s in camp with the Falcons…That’s just incredible,” said Brooks.
Banks, as well as other exonerees, like Ken Marsh, will be joining parts of this 55-day trek to the state’s capital to show their support.