Mission & History

Innocence Project of Texas (nickname: Innocence Texas or ITX) is a nonprofit human service organization that provides investigation and legal assistance to low-income Texas citizens who were convicted of crimes they did not commit.

By doing this work, we serve our mission to:

  • Restore citizen liberty that was unjustly taken

  • Reconnect families torn apart by injustice

  • Defend freedom in our democracy

  • Promote accuracy and integrity in our criminal justice process

Our Vision: No citizen shall have their liberty wrongly taken from them.

We operate out of our organizational headquarters located in Fort Worth, Texas, but we review actual innocence claims by individuals convicted of crimes across the state. On average, we receive more than 150 letters each week from individuals requesting our assistance. We currently have more than 500 cases in line for review.

In addition to our own staff, we utilize the power of volunteers, including law students, lawyers, private investigators, paralegals, and others who are committed to improving the criminal justice system in Texas. Our volunteers work under the supervision of Mike Ware and board of directors leadership contributing thousands of volunteer hours each year.

The Innocence Project of Texas was founded by Amarillo criminal defense attorney Jeff Blackburn in 2006.

Innocence Texas has exonerated (when a prisoner's conviction is overturned and all charges are dropped by a district attorney) 15 individuals. Several other cases continue to work their their way through the legal process.

In 2015, Innocence Texas experienced a dramatic leadership change when both Chief Counsel Jeff Blackburn and Executive Director Nick Vilbas left the organization. The board appointed former board member and longtime supporter Mike Ware as the new executive director and chief counsel. The Innocence Texas office was moved to Fort Worth from Lubbock.

Below we list those individuals who have been influential in our development and success.


Former Executive Directors

  • Rania Batrice
  • Scott Henson
  • Natalie Roetzel
  • Nick Vilbas
  • Catherine Whitworth

Former Board Members

  • Bruce Anton | Dallas, TX
  • Shirley Baccus-Lobel | Dallas, TX
  • Jeff Blackburn | Founder, Chief Counsel of IPTX | Amarillo, TX
  • Nicole Casarez | Houston, TX
  • Steve Egger | Clear Lake, TX
  • Alexandra Gauthier | Austin, TX
  • Catherine Greene Burnett | Houston, TX
  • Bill Habern | Huntsville, TX
  • Peter Lesser | Dallas, TX
  • Gianpaolo Macerola | Houston, TX
  • Amanda Marzullo | Austin, TX
  • Jani Maselli | Houston, TX
  • Anthony Robinson | Houston, TX
  • Sarah Roland | Denton, TX
  • Katherine Scardino | Houston, TX
  • Mike Ware | Fort Worth, TX
  • Bob Wicoff | Houston, TX
  • Phillip Wischkaemper | Lubbock, TX
  • James Woodard | Exoneree | Dallas, TX | Deceased