Photo of Maxwell Passas

Maxwell Passas

  • Hosted by Boston College Innocence Program
  • Sponsored by The Vertex Foundation
  • Service location Newton, Massachusetts
  • Law school Boston College Law School
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform, Racial Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2022
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Maxwell (she/her/hers) will free wrongfully convicted people incarcerated in Massachusetts through a multistakeholder collaboration that maximizes the use of conviction integrity programs.

Recognizing the systemic issues leading to wrongful convictions and unjust sentencing, prosecution offices nationwide have begun forming newly developed conviction integrity programs (CIPs) to review and investigate cases of injustice. Fortunately, CIPs provide a novel avenue for relief, especially for unrepresented people. In contrast to traditional routes, CIPs can waive procedural bars and act to correct a broader category of unjust convictions. Additionally, CIPs allow access to undisclosed evidence, such as work product and police records.

Maxwell was inspired by the mission of innocence organizations while working to free a client pursuing post-conviction relief and drafting legal and policy memorandum for developments in the arena of eyewitness identification law with the Boston College Innocence Program during her last two years of law school.

Fellowship Plans

Innocence organizations, such as the Boston College Innocence Program, have a unique opportunity to shape the development of CIP structures and processes to best help individuals in need, especially those who are unrepresented by counsel. Maxwell’s project has six strategic components, which include developing a process for law students to help pro se applicants seeking CIP relief, screening previously closed cases from Massachusetts’ innocence organizations to determine which clients may have a new avenue for relief through CIP review, and training CIP stakeholders.

I believe the innocence movement is a vehicle for change and even abolition within the criminal legal system. Working to uncover a broader category of injustice through the conviction integrity review process only furthers this mission.

Maxwell Passas /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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