Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Innocence Project -- puts your money to good use

The Innocence Project is fund-raising via The Liberty Papers: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is — The Innocence Project

Getting innocent people out of prison? I don’t see how you can argue with that. Note also that The Innocence Project is spending their time and money on the ground, helping actual convicts. This is not an activism organization lobbying your legislators, it exists to actual help individual convicts trying to prove their innocence.

This is surely one of the best uses of my charity/activism budgets.
  1. It helps people directly, unlike donations to political campaigns or regular advocacy groups
  2. It benefits the "least-advantaged members of society", unlike donations to cultural institutions
  3. It increases the total productivity of society be enabling the released prisoner to fulfill his social and economic roles, unlike institutions that only relieve suffering of the targeted individuals
  4. It increases awareness of widespread injustices, unlike charities that help people in the shadows
  5. It improves my own society, unlike charities that intervene in foreign societies
All in all, the Innocence Project may be the best charity around in terms of its potential to produce immediate and lasting benefits to myself and the people I care about, without potentially offending any reasonable people or displacing more sustainable solutions.

My only concern would be that we would come to rely on pro-bono lawyers to defend the accused, rather than modifying our court system to provide sufficient resources for the accused. However, the current indifference of the politicians to the plight of the falsely convicted is not a response to pro-bono defense lawyers. In fact, these advocates for the wrongly convicted may be the only ones who can bring public attention to this problem, thereby changing public attitudes towards punitive laws and placing pressure on politicians to actually think about justice when they write their laws and construct their budgets.

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