The Wisconsin Innocence Project (WIP) represents prison inmates who claim to be actually innocent of the crimes for which they are incarcerated. The Project is unable to represent all prisoners with claims of innocence; the Project is able to become involved in only a select number of cases in which there appears to be a significant chance that substantial new evidence can be found to prove innocence. Generally, the best type of evidence for this purpose is new physical evidence, such as blood, hair, or semen, that can be subjected to scientific testing, such as DNA testing. In some cases, where scientific testing was performed previously with inconclusive results, new technologies may be available now to obtain conclusive results. Other types of new evidence may be eyewitness accounts, or recantations from victims or witnesses, if such recantation can be supported by other new evidence.
How to Apply for Assistance
The first step in submitting a case for WIP's review is to complete the Application for Assistance. The application must be completed as fully as possible and submitted by the person claiming innocence. Please do not include any additional documents with the application.
- Application form (English) in PDF format (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
- Application form (Spanish) in PDF format (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
- Once completed, the application should be mailed to the address below. Please be aware that by submitting an application, WIP does not agree and is not obligated to represent the applicant.
Wisconsin Innocence Project
Frank J. Remington Center
University of Wisconsin Law School
975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706-1399
Once we receive the application, our Intake Staff will review the application to see what, if anything, our project can do to assist. If the application meets certain program criteria, it will be placed on our wait list to be further reviewed by law students and supervising attorneys. Again, if the applicant is placed on the wait list, it does not mean that WIP has agreed to representation. Please note that our wait list is currently very long. It may take 3 years or more before we are able to assign an applicant for further review.
Once assigned to a case, the applicant will be contacted by law students and a supervising attorney. If WIP does agree to represent an applicant, the applicant will be informed of the scope of the representation by WIP.
How We Select Cases:
The criteria for selecting cases include the following:
The Wisconsin Innocence Project primarily takes cases from individuals wrongly convicted in state and federal courts in Wisconsin.
Under extraordinary circumstances, the Project will consider cases from the following neighboring states in the Upper Midwest: Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.
The Project will consider cases from outside this region only if DNA evidence is available that can be used to prove innocence, or if there are similarly compelling and exceptional circumstances, AND if there is no innocence project available to provide assistance in the inmate's state.
The inmate must be making a claim of innocence based on substantial new evidence that has not been considered previously by a court.
The defendant must have been convicted and all direct appeals must be exhausted or the time for filing a direct appeal must have passed. If a prisoner still has time to file a direct appeal, he or she should exercise the right to appointed counsel through the courts of the public defender system.
No Other Counsel
The inmate must not be currently represented by another attorney in his of her criminal case, or have the right to appointed counsel in the case. We do not accept cases if:
- The applicant played even a minor role in the crime or is not claiming actual innocence to the crime.
- The applicant feels as though he or she should have been convicted of a different crime.
- The applicant acted in self-defense.
- The applicant claimed the defense of insanity or intoxication.
- The applicant was convicted of a sexual assault for a sexual encounter he or she says was consensual.
- The applicant has less than three (3) years to serve on the incarceration portion of his or her sentence. Due to a lack of resources, we are unable to assist those who are on probation or parole.