Innocence Project Chapter Ran By One Of The ‘Exonerated Five’ Receives Spike In Donations Amid Popularity Of 'When They See Us'
Wise himself pledged $190,000 to the Innocence Project in 2015.
July 01, 2019 at 6:44 pm
The release of the Ava DuVernay-directed Netflix series When They See Us has brought a resurgence of attention to the 1989 case in which five young Black and Latino boys were wrongfully accused of raping a white jogger in New York City. Since the show's airing, one of the exonerated men has seen a rapid increase in donations to his namesake nonprofit.
The Korey Wise Innocence Project is an organization that seeks to provide pro bono work to individuals asserting they have been wrongfully convicted for a crime. The Denver Post reports Wise donated $190,000 to the group himself in 2015. The association is based at the University of Colorado Boulder.
In just one month since the series premiered on Netflix on May 31, The organization has collected 152 donations totaling $11,256. From the beginning of the year to when the program aired, just nine contributions totaling under $1,100 were pledged.
"It's very inspiring to see people be moved by an issue that I care so much about," said Anne-Marie Moyes, director of the Korey Wise Innocence Project, via The Denver Post. "I think a lot of what happens in our criminal justice system ends up being invisible by a lot of people. There are so many injustices within our system. For people deeply immersed in this work, it’s very heartening to see how much this moves others to do something and to learn more."
Moyes, who is the only staff member with a full-time role with CU's Innocence Project, anticipates the rise in gifts will help her build a team of attorneys to service more applicants longing to prove their innocence.
"One of the things that’s so hard is you get all these requests, and you're deeply aware of the need and desperation of people coming to you for help and it’s very hard to just know you can’t serve more of that need," Moyes said. "There is a much higher demand than we can serve."
Per the foundation's website, the Colorado Innocence Project was founded in 2001 by a group of Colorado-based attorneys and assembled under the pro bono nonprofit group Colorado Lawyers Committee. The Colorado Innocence Project was renamed the Korey Wise Innocence Project in 2015 to pay respect to Wise's contribution.
Wise was recently recognized with the Richard Schaden ‘Adopted Alumnus’ Award at the 2019 Colorado Law Alumni Awards Banquet, where he met with aspiring lawyers and discussed his own experience fighting for his innocence.