How We Take Cases

IPNO receives hundreds of requests for help each year. Unfortunately we can’t take every case.

Our office currently only takes cases from Louisiana. If your loved one is in another state, please visit this page to find a list of other organizations that may be able to help you.

We don’t review cases for incarcerated people based on a telephone call or e-mail and do not accept calls from people in prison.  If you call the office, you will only be provided the same information as is written below. We only accept written applications directly from prisoners wanting help. If your loved-one meets EVERY criteria below, please have them write to us directly. The criteria are:

  • The person claims they are factually innocent of the crime for which they are in prison. (A person is factually innocent if they had no involvement in the crime and were not there. IPNO does not take cases of legal innocence, self-defense or cases in which the person is guilty of a lesser charge.)
  • The person was convicted in Louisiana.
  • The person is serving a life sentence or a near-life sentence with at least 10 years left to be served.
  • The person’s direct appeal has been denied (the direct appeal is the automatic appeal that follows a trial).
  • The person cannot afford an attorney.
  • The person is not serving a sentence on another, unrelated charge that will mean he or she will not be released if the conviction at issue is overturned.

If your loved-one does not meet the criteria, we understand you still may need help. Unfortunately there are not many people who can take the cases of people in prison, but for a few possible resources click here.

If your loved-one DOES meet our criteria and is imprisoned in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, tell him to ask an Inmate Counsel Substitute for an application form. Inmate Counsel Substitutes are trained in the IPNO application process and can make sure applications contain all the information we need to screen his case.

Applicants in other prisons should write to IPNO to ask for an application form:

Case Manager

Innocence Project New Orleans

4051 Ulloa Street, New Orleans, LA 70119

Cases that do not meet ALL the criteria or are not submitted IN WRITING will not be considered.

Please understand that we receive a large number of letters every week and it will take some time for us to respond to the application or inquiry. The applicant will be notified when the application is received or if it is determined the applicant’s case is not a case we can take. Otherwise, IPNO does not correspond with applicants about their case unless we decide we need additional information to screen the case. If IPNO does begin work on a case, project staff will contact the incarcerated person directly. If IPNO decides to represent someone, we will provide them a written representation agreement to be signed by them.

Please tell your loved one to be patient. It often takes years before we can begin to review a case.

Do not call our office to inquire about the status of an application. We do not have the staff to handle phone calls and they only slow down our review of applications.