Opening Statements

Funding Innocence

  • Print.

Get-out-of-jail-free cards come easily in the game of Monopoly, though by chance.

But they’re not cheap in real life—and chance plays a bigger role.

So when the Innocence Project reached a significant milestone in April—springing from prison its 200th wrong­fully convicted person with DNA evidence—it launched a first-time, monthlong ad campaign to raise money and build on its successes.

Plenty of dead trees have gone into booklets and fliers. But the New York City-based nonprofit, affiliated with the Ben­jamin N. Cardozo law school, has also been tapping into the Web with banner ads on USAToday .com and, as well as on “blogs from across the spectrum,” says communications director Eric Ferrero.

That spectrum apparently runs a short distance from the left to a bit further left with two blogs that do news-with-attitude and a kind of investigative journalism: Talking Points Memo and AlterNet.

In the midst of the IP’s new campaign, Ferrero couldn’t put a dollar figure on the outlay or income, saying just that “tens of thousands of dollars” went into ads and other materials.

Those materials include follow-ups to whichever of the 600 or so college and law student groups targeted by the Innocence Project want to get with the program.

The students are old enough to grasp the gravity of the exonerations, but young enough to still have more than a few damns to give.

“I think it’s awesome,” says Stacy Boyd, president of the Sociology and Criminal Justice Society at Texas A&M University-Commerce, who sent back word to the IP that her group wants to help. “I’m trying to get approv­al from my department head for this to be my internship of 150 clock hours.”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.