2020 Louisville Law alumna helps raise more than $40,000 for Innocence Project

What started as a "modest effort" by a recent Louisville Law graduate and a friend at the University of Minnesota School of Law has bloomed into a fundraiser that has raised more than $40,000 for the legal nonprofit Innocence Project.

The initial goal for the Facebook fundraiser was $150, says Lauren North, who graduated from Louisville Law in May 2020.

"It was honestly just a modest little effort on Juneteenth to recognize that the whole of the criminal justice system, not just police, is fundamentally broken. It was meant to raise a bit of money for the Innocence Project and contribute to awareness around how wrongful convictions are racialized," she says. 

The Innocence Project "exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice."

North cites two examples of racial injustice within the criminal justice system: An innocent Black person is seven times as likely as an innocent white person to be wrongfully convicted of murder, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 55 percent of death row inmates are Black or Latino/a. 

North's friend, Kristin Trapp, a rising 3L at the University of Minnesota School of Law, joined in the fundraiser.

"I think for both of us, living in cities at the forefront of this current movement, having incredible advantages, and being in the legal profession, it felt important to use our circles of privilege to raise money for causes that support Black liberation, in this case, quite literally.

"By the end of the day, we had raised about $2,000 and thought that was the end of the story. When I woke up, the fundraiser had $3,500 in it and it just kept growing. It became pretty clear after about an hour of watching the dollar amount tick upward, that the fundraiser had started rolling on its own steam. It was incredible to watch people join the cause throughout the day, to get excited and enthusiastic about tangibly supporting Black lives by not only giving money, but using their own spheres of influence. 

"Kristin and I could not be more thrilled that such a huge chunk of money is going to such a worthwhile endeavor in the name of Black Lives Matter and Juneteenth," says North.

The fundraiser is still open for donations.