2016 Award Recipients Announced!

The New England Innocence Project is delighted to honor two champions of innocence at its September 23rd, 2016 “Night Out with NEIP” event at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center.

Ronjon Cameron (left) and Lisa Kavanaugh (right)

Ronjon Cameron (left) and Lisa Kavanaugh (right)

Lisa Kavanaugh will be awarded the 2016 Savage Award, named for NEIP founder and supporter Joseph F. Savage, Jr., given annually to someone who has made significant contributions to ending wrongful convictions.  Ms. Kavanaugh is the director of the Innocence Program at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS). In addition to litigating numerous post conviction cases herself, many resulting in exonerations, she has also developed statewide training programs in the proper use of forensic evidence, convened a working group of criminal justice leaders composed of prosecutors, law enforcement, forensics scientists and defense counsel addressing the causes of wrongful convictions, and is a board member of the Innocence Network, a coalition of projects from the USA and abroad that address wrongful convictions.  Ms. Kavanaugh is also the driving force behind the Running for Innocence campaign that NEIP uses to pay the expenses associated with post-conviction litigation.  “It is impossible to overstate Lisa’s contribution to innocence work,” said Denise McWilliams, NEIP’s Executive Director.  “Her efforts have not only contributed to the release of innocent, yet incarcerated people, but have also resulted in the reforms of the conditions that led to their conviction in the first place.”

Ronjon Cameron will receive the Dennis Maher award, named for NEIP board member and exoneree Dennis Maher, an outspoken advocate for post-conviction DNA access and improving the lives of exonerees, given to an exoneree who has done extraordinary work to help the lives of exonerees.   Since his release in June of 2015, after wrongful conviction and incarceration for 14 years, Ronjon Cameron has been a warm, gracious and inspiring presence in the New England Innocence community. “Ronjon was released just over a year ago, but his humor and positivity have already had a remarkable impact on the wrongful conviction community,” said law professor Stephanie Hartung, who worked on Ronjon’s case. “Like Dennis, his generous spirit belies the horrific tragedy he has suffered.” Within months of his release, he volunteered to speak to Boston law students studying wrongful convictions as part of a seminar course at Suffolk Law School. Since then, he has repeatedly spoken about his wrongful conviction and the flaws in the criminal justice system to gatherings of lawyers, law students, and journalists, and worked devotedly towards advancing the cause of innocence. Although his case is a disturbing reminder of how our system can go astray, Mr. Cameron’s strength and honesty in telling his story are an extraordinary testament to the human spirit, and a ray of hope that together, we can work towards bettering our justice system.

More information and tickets to the event are available at: