Midwest Innocence Project
605 West 47th Street, Suite 222
Kansas City MO 64112
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 221-2166
Mission Statement
The mission of the Midwest Innocence Project (MIP) is to advocate for and obtain the exoneration and release of innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit in our five-state area. MIP accepts cases from Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Arkansas. 
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Tricia Bushnell
Board Chair Charles W German Esq.
Board Chair Company Affiliation German May
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2000
Former Names
Midwestern Innocence Project
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

 Breakdown
Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Statements
Mission Statement The mission of the Midwest Innocence Project (MIP) is to advocate for and obtain the exoneration and release of innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit in our five-state area. MIP accepts cases from Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Arkansas. 
Background Statement Midwest Innocence Project (MIP) (formerly Midwestern Innocence Project) was established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation in 2000. Originally spearheaded by faculty & staff at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law and the local legal community, MIP has grown to support its own legal staff that litigates cases and support MIP affiliated law schools and firms. Together, MIP attorneys and the legal community assist incarcerated individuals (typically individuals of color and individuals from financially disadvantaged backgrounds) who claim they were wrongly convicted and, through the use of science and other investigative methods, attempt to determine if these individuals are actually innocent. In cases of true wrongful conviction, MIP seeks to obtain exoneration and release. Where appropriate, volunteer lawyers and law students with MIP-affiliated law schools review information provided by inmates on a standard questionnaire and follow up as warranted with more intensive investigation. Lawyers and investigators working on a pro-bono basis also assist MIP’s Executive Director in specific cases. To date, MIP has received more than 2,750 requests for assistance, with new requests arriving at the rate of 3-5 per week. The organization operates through a Board of Directors, and hired its first executive director in 2004. MIP is making a difference. In August 2004, MIP lawyers won an important legal victory in the Missouri Supreme Court related to the rights of inmates to post-conviction DNA testing and have both individually and through collaborations with other innocence organizations secured the release of numerous wrongly convicted individuals. Over the years, MIP has prevailed in the exoneration of a Missouri man who was declared innocent by a Missouri judge who called his wrongful conviction in a highly publicized 1996 murder case a “manifest injustice.” In 2013, MIP represented Robert Nelson, who was exonerated after new DNA testing revealed he did not commit the rape of which he was convicted. In 2015, Floyd Bledsoe was exonerated after MIP, working within its newly formed partnership with the KU School of Law, secured DNA testing that proved his innocence. On a larger scale, MIP is a member of the international Innocence Network and works with 69 similar organizations around the world in coordinating legal work and in public education efforts. MIP is currently in active investigation in dozens of cases and anticipates filing in several cases this year.
Impact Statement
Our proudest achievements in the last year include:
  1. Entering litigation on behalf of 15 clients encompassing our five-state region.
  2. Receiving a $620,000 Department of Justice grant in conjunction with the Wrongful Conviction Division of the State Public Defender’s Office, and the Iowa Division of Criminalistics Laboratory to review cases involving hair microscopy testimony. The grant further supports our audit of forensic science cases in our region, including cases involving microscopic hair comparisons, a forensic field the FBI found to involve a 90% error rate in trial testimony. The development of our project will provide significant research that can be used to strengthen the forensic sciences and prevent future wrongful convictions.
  3. Increased awareness of our work and clients through participation in MTV’s Unlocking the Truth, featuring MIP client Michael Politte.
 
Looking forward to the coming year MIP's goals can be encapsulated in 3 broad areas:
  1. Expanding our mission-work capacity. We have hired our first full time development director to expand our fundraising platforms and increase philanthropic giving with the aim of hiring additional staff for mission work.
  2. Strengthening forensic science. We are expanding our work with the microscopic hair comparison case review to include other flawed forensic fields, including arson and bitemark analysis. It is our hope that the data gleaned from these sentinel event reviews can be used to strengthen forensics and thus their subsequent use in court.
  3. Educate the public on the causes of wrongful conviction. As members of society, we all bear a responsibility to correct and prevent wrongful convictions. We will continue to work to promote public awareness about the issues underlying wrongful convictions.
Needs Statement
The most pressing needs our organization faces are:
  1. Increase MIP staff size to include at least two full-time attorneys and post-law school fellowships.
  2. Expand our policy initiative work to prevent and correct wrongful convictions.
  3. Hold community outreach events to educate citizenry and gain advocates related to wrongful conviction work.
  4. Securing at least $1,000,000 in annual unrestricted funding for ongoing operations from corporate and private funders to fund the investigation and litigation of MIP cases by MIP staff, volunteer attorneys, and affiliated law school clinics.
Service Categories
Legal Services
Civil Liberties
Higher Education
Areas of Service
MO
KS
MO - Jackson County
MO - Clay County
MO - Platte County
KS - Wyandotte County
KS - Johnson County
MO - Eastern Jackson Co
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
IA
NE
KS - Wyandotte County Urban Core
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement More than 10 years ago MIP was founded by a group of University faculty and students from UMKC who were determined to right a terrible wrong.  Today, MIP still enjoys a close relationship with the University of Missouri, but MIP has grown into a public/private partnership that seeks to educate and involve the community in understanding the need for its services--because our system of justice does sometimes get it wrong--as well as the price we all pay when our justice system convicts the innocent and the guilty go free.  The current Board of Directors is made up of individuals from throughout the community, diverse in background, age and interests, bound by their commitment to justice for all.  The Board meets monthly, and each member contributes particular expertise and experience, serving actively on one or more committees and participating in retreats and planning meetings.  The Board has recently completed strategic efforts to solidify MIP's future through reorganization, fundraising, Board and staff development and grant writing.  We have made significant progress on all fronts.  A strategic plan is in place to align priorities and resources; Board committees are active.  Two Justice Department grants provide substantial funding for staff and case investigation over a three-year period, and a partnership with the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association provides a committed base of trained volunteers to assist with advocacy and case review.  Most important, although nationally the average time to overturn a wrongful conviction is 7-10 years, and we are no different, we recently have achieved two exonerations.  With four more cases currently in litigation and many more under active investigation, additional exonerations are expected.   Through the addition of staff funded by the Department of Justice and trained volunteers through a partnership with the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, we have greatly increased the speed with which we can process cases.  We are proud of MIP, its staff and its accomplishments.
Programs
Description Investigation/legal assistance for inmates with persuasive actual innocence claims, and reporting on the causes of those convictions.
Category Crime & Legal, General/Other Criminal Justice & Corrections
Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent, ,
Short-Term Success
Short-term success will include the continued investigation and litigation of innocence claims, resulting in the exoneration and release of the wrongfully incarcerated. 
Long-Term Success
Long-term success would include a decreased number of applications, as more individuals receive our assistance and fewer and fewer innocent individuals are wrongfully convicted. 
Program Success Monitored By
Our success will be monitored by our Board of Directors, the community and staff. Success can be measured by the number of fully developed cases, the number of cases in active litigation, increased attendance at informational sessions for the bar, bench, and law enforcement agencies, as well as increased community awareness around the causes of wrongful convictions generally. 
Examples of Program Success
The exoneration of Floyd Bledsoe on December 8, 2015 was an achievement. Mr. Bledsoe served 16 years for a murder he did not commit until DNA testing proved his innocence.
 
In 2016, we entered litigation on behalf of 15 clients encompassing our five-state region. 
Description Lobbying state legislatures for laws that will assist those who are actually innocent during their appeal process as well as post-release.
Category Crime & Legal, General/Other Criminal Justice & Corrections
Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent, ,
Short-Term Success Attendance at informational sessions for the bar, bench, and law enforcement agencies
Long-Term Success
Long-term success would include the passage of greater compensation bills for the wrongfully incarcerated, as well as bills designed to reduce future convictions of the innocence. 
Program Success Monitored By Our success will be monitored by our Board of Directors, the community and staff. Success can be measured by the number of fully developed cases, the number of cases in active litigation, increased attendance at informational sessions for the bar, bench, and law enforcement agencies, as well as increased community awareness around the causes of wrongful convictions generally.
Examples of Program Success

The introduction of eyewitness identification bills in both the Kansas and Missouri legislatures indicates that our greater educational efforts have been successful.

Description Education of law students and journalism students at affiliated universities in the areas of wrongful convictions and investigative reporting.
Category Education, General/Other Educational Programs
Population Served General/Unspecified, ,
Short-Term Success Short-Term success is seen in the volunteer hours or interns and volunteers.
Long-Term Success  Long-Term success for our educational efforts will be seen in future professionals who have a clear understanding of the issues surrounding innocence work and the importance of MIP's efforts.
Program Success Monitored By  The Midwest Innocence Project's Legal Director, Tricia Bushnell has a history of educational oversight.  Her past work as a university professor is essential to recognizing successful participation by students.  To date there are no formal monitoring processes in place.
Examples of Program Success Students have helped in case investigations and case intake screening.
Description MIP collaborates with experts from the fields of statistics and cognitive bias for its Kansas City-based forensic audit program. These experts assure that data is collected at scientific research standards, and will determine when statistical and errors were present, exacerbated by human factors, in hundreds of trials throughout the Midwest.
Category Crime & Legal, General/Other Crime & Legal, General/Other
Population Served Adults, ,
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success Completion of the audit of microscopic hair comparison cases, conducted with partners at the Iowa State Public Defender’s Wrongful Conviction Division.
Long-Term Success
Reviews of microscopic hair comparison cases completed and results reported should lead to two possible outcomes:
  1. Provide relief for the wrongfully convicted.
  2. Improve the practice of forensic science.
Program Success Monitored By Experts from multiple disciplines will promote accountability and have developed procedures to ensure the highest levels of accuracy in collected data.
Examples of Program Success
Thorough our partnership with the Iowa State Public Defender's Wrongful Conviction Division, hair microscopy cases are under review in said state, with support from a Department of Justice grant.
CEO Comments The Midwest Innocence Project exists to advocate for and obtain the exoneration and release of wrongfully convicted people. MIP serves a five-state region, and cases are accepted from other jurisdictions where MIP’s attorneys are licensed to practice. Our Executive Director oversees all legal work, organizational development, communications and community outreach. A newly hired development director provides full-time professional fundraising support for the organization. Other staff members (including the staff attorney, intake specialist, and project manager) are devoted to the active investigation and preparation of cases. Clinical agreements with law schools in MIP’s five-state region allow for the training of the next generation of professionals who will help spread the message of justice for all and address the issue of wrongful convictions. MIP also conducts continuing legal education programs for attorneys and public education programs to enlighten members of the bar and the general public about the causes of wrongful convictions and their prevalence in the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, it is our experience that it takes 7-10 years to obtain a client’s exoneration. It has been slow progress, but in addition to the recent exoneration of Floyd Bledsoe, we believe our organization is poised to achieve success in 10 cases currently in litigation and approximately 42 more under active investigation.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Tricia Bushnell
Term Start July 2016
Experience
Tricia Bushnell joined the Midwest Innocence Project in December 2013 and became Executive Director in July 2016. Prior to coming to Kansas City, she served as clinical faculty at the Frank J. Remington Center’s Wisconsin Innocence Project, University of Wisconsin-Madison. There she supervised students in the investigation and litigation of innocence cases involving both DNA and non-DNA evidence. She also spearheaded a program to bring social work students into the criminal clinics. She speaks about this and her cases at the annual Innocence Network Conference. Before joining the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Bushnell was a fellow with the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, where she represented indigent clients sentenced to death, juveniles sentenced to life without parole, and sexual offenders challenging the collateral consequences of their convictions. She has written and filed briefs on behalf of defendants and amicus curiae in both state and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court. She earned her Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law, where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Fellow. She received a Bachelor of Arts in German and Political Science from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.
Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start 0
Compensation Last Year
Former CEOs
NameTerm
Oliver Burnette June 2014 - May 2016
Senior Staff
Title Development Director
Staff
Paid Full-Time Staff 5
Paid Part-Time Staff 2
Volunteers 35
Paid Contractors 7
Retention Rate 80%
Staff Diversity (Ethnicity)
Caucasian 4
Hispanic/Latino 2
Other 1
Other (Please Specify) Persian
Staff Diversity (Gender)
Female 5
Male 2
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Under Development
Management Succession Plan No
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Collaborations
MIP is an official member of the Innocence Network. Other collaborations include law schools, such as UMKC Law School and the University of Kansas Law School.
Awards
Award/RecognitionOrganizationYear
MemberNational Innocence Network2014
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? No
CEO Comments MIP finds itself in good standing to face a common challenge of non-profits- this being the demand for services exceeding available resources. The restructuring of our organization and the hiring of a new Executive Director and Development Director will provide leadership for further growth of our programs as well as provide full-time professional fundraising expertise to implement a multiplatform development plan. A significant number of volunteers from the Kansas City legal community continue to be trained in the case review process, significantly helping to reduce the number of backlogged cases pending review.
Board Chair
Board Chair Charles W German Esq.
Company Affiliation German May
Term Jan 2017 to Dec 2017
Email charleyg@germanmay.com
Board Members
NameAffiliation
John Aisenbrey Stinson Leonard Street
Floyd Bledsoe
Andrew Brain Brain Development
Steve Browne Meara Welch Browne
Rita Cortes EsqSeigfried Bingham
John Edgar Edgar Law Firm
Mark Emison EsqLangdon & Emison
Ryan Ferguson
Dennis Fritz
Leah Georges
Charles W. German EsqRouse Hendricks German May PC
Robert Hoffman Bryan Cave
Courtney Kounkel
Quinton Lucas German May
Neal McNabb
Jeff Morris Berkowitz Oliver
Jean Phillips
Cheryl Pilate Esq.Morgan Pilate LLC
Sydney Ragsdale
David Shapland Russell Stover
Julie Shull Kansas City Power & Light
Dean Ellen Y. Suni University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law
David Welte Stowers Resource Management
Sam Wendt Wendt Law Firm
Curtis Woods Denton's
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 23
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 17
Female 8
Unspecified 0
Governance
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 80%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 92%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Standing Committees
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Executive
Strategic Planning / Strategic Direction
Advisory Board Members
NameAffiliation
Mike Abrams
George Barton
Steve Chinn
Judy Heeter
John Keller
Carl McCaffree
Matt McCaffree
Phyllis Norman
Judy Orton
Pete Smith
Sara Strnad
Laura Welch
Jim Wyrsch
CEO Comments

MIP has established boards to provide advice, advocacy, fundraising support and harness volunteer interest in our organization. Applications and nominations for parties interested in serving on boards are welcome; there is significant need for legislative and fundraising support.

Financials
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2017
Projected Revenue $615,000
Projected Expenses $615,000
Form 990s
2015 MIP 990
2014 MIP 990
2013 MIP 990
2012 MIP 990
2011 MIP 990
2010 MIP 990
2009 MIP 990
2008 MIP 990
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FYE 6/30/2015, 2014, 2013: Financial data reported using IRS Form 990.  
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line items may include contributions from individuals. 
Detailed Financials
 
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201520142013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$32,400$80,729$12,431
Government Contributions$0$0$151,342
Federal------
State------
Local------
Unspecified$0$0$151,342
Individual Contributions------
$0$0$0
$0$0$15,397
Investment Income, Net of Losses$0$0$0
Membership Dues$0$0$0
Special Events$175,723$188,103$240,639
Revenue In-Kind$47,657$26,030$69,820
Other$115$0$695
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$373,964$168,024$286,868
Administration Expense$71,187$93,951$53,856
Fundraising Expense$60,203$28,707$28,638
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.511.011.33
Program Expense/Total Expenses74%58%78%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue29%11%7%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$105,130$333,616$329,304
Current Assets$92,038$307,718$327,538
Long-Term Liabilities$9,545$627$1,536
Current Liabilities$0$0$0
Total Net Assets$95,585$332,989$327,768
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets9%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201520142013
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Comments Our fundraising has consisted primarily of special events, which succeeded in generating both funding and awareness.  While we have received significant grants from the Department of Justice in the past, we are additionally working to identify sources of unrestricted funding. For this reason, we hired our first full time development director who is starting to cultivate donors as the major gift level, as well as expand our KC-based development operation to all 5 states where we work. We are also strengthening our board's fundraising capacities, and pursuing additional grant opportunities by targeting KC foundations on which board members serve or maintain relationships. 
Organization Name Midwest Innocence Project
Address 605 West 47th Street, Suite 222
Kansas City, MO 64112
Primary Phone (816) 221-2166
Contact Email office@themip.org
CEO/Executive Director Tricia Bushnell
Board Chair Charles W German Esq.
Board Chair Company Affiliation German May
Year of Incorporation 2000
Former Names
Midwestern Innocence Project