The Georgia Innocence Project (GIP) has announced a donation from former NBA All-Star and long-time GIP supporter Joe Barry Carroll that will help the organization’s efforts to exonerate wrongfully imprisoned Georgians.

Carroll funded the salary of Melissa Arends, a newly-hired administration/operations manager and GIP’s second full-time staff member.

“Funding this salary is an extension of my past work with the Georgia Innocence Project in making financial contributions and assisting exonerees on the practical issues they face as they attempt to reconstruct their lives,” said Carroll. “I remain excited about the work that GIP is doing with the use of DNA to provide justice for the wrongly incarcerated.”

He continued, “It breaks my heart that innocent men and women continue to be incarcerated for crimes that they did not commit. Much of this tragedy is preventable. Funding this staff position is my effort to help. I am hopeful that others sensitive to our cause will join in and make a contribution of cash, talent, or other resources.”

Prior to Carroll’s offer to fully fund the position, GIP’s only staff consisted of an executive director and a part-time administrative assistant. The staff collaborates with attorney volunteers and law student interns who help process cases. Since its establishment in 2002, GIP has received more than 5,400 requests for assistance and is currently investigating over 200 cases.

Aimee Maxwell, Georgia Innocence director and chief counsel, said, “I am thrilled with Joe’s contribution and what that represents. By totally funding the salary of a full-time office administrator, he has changed the landscape of GIP and potentially the lives of Georgia families. We are currently investigating over 200 cases and this donation is invaluable in helping us provide justice that has been denied.”

(Photo: Pictured, from left, is former NBA All Star Joe Barry Carroll with Georgia exoneree and GIP board member Calvin Harrison and Texas exoneree Ronnie Taylor.)

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