Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Pennsylvania Innocence Project


In 2024, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project celebrates 15 years of work to exonerate those convicted of crimes they did not commit, to prevent innocent people from being prosecuted and convicted, and to help those wrongfully convicted transition to freedom. To-date we have welcomed home to Pennsylvania more than 30 freed and exonerated clients. Together, they lost more than 800 years of their lives to wrongful convictions.
Last year, we welcomed home five Project clients through exonerations or pleas.
In June, William Johnson and LaFaye Gaskins returned home to Philadelphia just one day apart from one another. William, a children’s book author, stayed connected to his family while incarcerated in part by writing stories for his niece. LaFaye, a proud father, was welcomed home by his devoted mother and his daughter, born just before he was incarcerated and recently honorably discharged from the US Navy.
By the end of December, David Sparks, Eddie Ramirez, and CJ Rice also walked free. CJ’s conviction was overturned in November and he was released on bail in December, awaiting the Commonwealth’s decision to retry him or dismiss charges. His case drew national media attention in large part due to his lifelong friendship with his pediatrician Dr. Theodore Tapper, and his son, journalist Jake Tapper of CNN, shining a light on important issues surrounding wrongful convictions.
Now, already in 2024, we have cause to celebrate the exonerations of CJ Rice and Harold Staten. Earlier this month, we welcomed William Bailey home to Philadelphia.
This May at the Water Works in Philadelphia we will come together to celebrate homecoming as we mark our fifteenth anniversary year. We are proud to honor the legacy of Temple University President JoAnne Epps at this special event with the naming of the JoAnne Epps Hero of Justice Award and the presentation of that award to Project clients, in recognition of their sustained fight for justice.
Please consider joining us for our special 15th anniversary fundraising event on May 8th. Gain more updates on innocence work and other upcoming events by subscribing to our e-newsletter at
Thank you to all those who stand with us in the fight to free the wrongfully incarcerated and in the effort to support clients when they return home. The Philadelphia Bar Foundation, the many dozens of volunteer attorneys and professionals who contribute time and talent to the review and litigation of innocence cases, and our full support community make the continued expansion of our legal and reentry services possible. Together, we are unlocking the truth and freeing the innocent.