TORONTO, May 14, 2015 /CNW/ – Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) will provide the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) with $100,000 over two years to provide post-conviction legal services and education. Over the years, LAO has both directly and indirectly supported the goals and aims of AIDWYC and the legal needs of its clients. This pilot project will continue LAO’s relationship with AIDWYC by funding some of AIDWYC’s expenses related to reviewing claims of innocence, such as forensic expert opinions and private investigations. AIDWYC will continue to conduct case reviews on a pro bono basis, with the help of volunteer lawyers. Seventy per cent of the LAO funds will go towards the case review process and 30 per cent towards legal education about wrongful conviction. This agreement aims to recognize and correct wrongful convictions, by providing greater access to legal services after conviction.
“This funding will finance case reviews of questionable convictions, so that wrongfully convicted people are identified more quickly and legal proceedings to secure their exonerations can move forward.” LAO’s core mandate is to provide access to justice. I am delighted with this important next step in supporting access to justice for the wrongfully convicted.”
Chair Legal Aid Ontario
“It’s a desperate situation to be in prison for a crime you did not commit and to have no one to turn to for help because you have no money. Legal Aid Ontario has recognized the importance of helping individuals who find themselves in this situation obtain legal assistance from AIDWYC by contributing funding for our work. This pilot project, the first of its kind in Canada, reflects an inspirational and pioneering effort towards access to justice and we are enormously grateful for their much-needed support.”
AIDWYC Co-President and exoneree
- AIDWYC has exonerated 19 innocent people since the group’s 1993 launch.
- AIDWYC’s pro bono legal work is valued at an estimated $3.5 million annually.
- AIDWYC is the only non-profit organization in Canada investigating innocence cases full time, independent of government or universities.
- LAO is an arms-length agency of the Ontario government.
- LAO provides legal services to low-income Ontarians.
SOURCE Legal Aid Ontario