NEW YORK, Feb. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pershing Square Foundation today announced a $1 million grant to support the Innocence Project's shift toward having wider systemic impact on criminal justice policy at the federal and state level.
The grant, the largest in the organization's history, will support the Innocence Project's state-based policy advocacy as well as its core legal, policy and communications work.
"Wrongful convictions are shameful to our country and to my own sense of justice," said Bill Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management. "Using DNA testing to overturn wrongful convictions, the Innocence Project has helped to identify fundamental flaws in the criminal justice system. The Pershing Square Foundation shares The Innocence Project's mission to provide justice for innocent individuals who have no voice, and to help reform the system responsible for unjust imprisonment."
The grant will help the Innocence Project educate, train and work cooperatively with law enforcement to eradicate wrongful convictions."As the Innocence Project shifts its focus to create more lasting change at the federal and state level, we are deeply honored to receive such critical support from The Pershing Square Foundation. The grant will enable us to make important strides reforming the criminal system to prevent future injustice," said Madeline deLone, executive director of The Innocence Project. "The Pershing Square Foundation believes in supporting social justice and is committed to creating a society that respects human rights, dignity and justice both in local communities and around the world," said Paul Bernstein, CEO of The Pershing Square Foundation. "We are pleased to provide a gift that we truly believe will be catalytic in accelerating the Innocent Project's efforts to transform the criminal justice system." The grant will support non-lobbying advocacy that seeks to reform the criminal justice system throughout the United States. This includes improvements in how law enforcement conducts line-ups, reforming the eyewitness identification process and providing those seeking to prove their innocence with better access to DNA testing. The Pershing Square Foundation has supported social justice and social entrepreneurs around the world who have innovative solutions to pressing social needs. This includes Human Rights Watch, Social Finance US, One Acre Fund and Health Leads. In keeping with this mission, the Foundation has also supported the Innocence Project's work since 2011.