UW law school group helps free innocent man after 24 years in pr - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UW law school group helps free innocent man after 24 years in prison

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A Milwaukee man is getting a new start to his life after spending 24 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

Daryl Holloway was released from Green Bay Correctional Institution Wednesday, after the Wisconsin Innocence Project at UW-Madison helped overturn his 1993 rape and armed burglary convictions. 

Holloway's attorney Keith Findley tells 27 News an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee County raised concerns over the DNA evidence in the case and found errors. Eventually, the WIP ordered new tests that showed Holloway couldn't have committed the crimes. In less than a year, his conviction was overturned.

 "I'm still alive, that I'm blessed to see this day, that I'm free again. You know, most people may not get that chance," Holloway told reporters after being released from prison.

Findley and some of the law students who worked the case were there to greet Holloway as he got out of prison, including Rachel Potter who was able to make the call to tell him he had been cleared.

"I just got real emotional, and I said you're getting out, and it's going to be in the next couple days and we talked about what today was going to be like and it was one of the most moving experiences," Potter says.

Findley, who is also co-director and founder of WIP, says most cases take years, even a decade to resolve and many are never overturned, but the prosecutor's commitment in Holloway's case gives him hope more future cases could be reopened. He says it's a model of how the system should work.

"If prosecutors are committed to getting to the truth, they have nothing to fear from DNA testing," Findley says. "I do hope that it at least sets and example that some will follow. DNA testing is there to tell us what we can't know and there's no point in sort of guessing what we think the results of the DNA testing will be when we can do the testing and find out."

The project gets hundreds of requests for help every year, but of those, the group works on 50 to 60 at one time. 18 to 20 law students are enrolled in the program every year, doing work on the cases alongside the professors. 

Since starting in 1998, WIP has freed nearly two dozen wrongfully convicted people. Many cases rely on DNA, but at least half of those exonerations didn't have DNA evidence.

Under state law, Holloway could get about $5-thousand for every year he wrongly spent in prison, but it's capped at $25-thousand. Findley says that's the lowest reimbursement rate in the nation.

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