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Media attention this week on aspiring Seahawks team member Brian Banks is shining light on the Innocence Project, a national effort to free and exhonorate wrongly convicted people from prison.

Banks, 26, was accused of rape and kidnapping when he was 16-years-old. He was convicted in 2003 and sent to prison. The California Innocence Project helped exhonorate himlast month after the accuser admitted on tape that she lied.

In Seattle, the Innocence Project Northwest operates out of the University of Washington School of Law, where students, faculty and volunteer legal experts have helped secure freedom for at least 16 people in Washington prisons since 1997.

One of those high profile cases involved Alan Northrop, who in 1993 was wrongly convicted of raping a Clark County woman. He spent 17 years in prison before being released in July 2010, and he has lobbied ever since to get people like himself compensation for the years they spent behind bars.

It's exhilirating. It's tragic. It's remarkable work. And it's what makes me continue to want to do the work, said Jackie McMurtrie, the lawyer who runs IPNW.

As for Brian Banks, he is in Seattle now trying out for the Seahawks. Hawks coach Pete Carroll had recruited Banks to play at USC and offered him a shot at achieving his dream to play football professionally.

May 24, the day of my exoneration, and just today, to be out here on this field, to work out with the Seahawks, to be given an opportunity to have a tryout -- I really don t have words for it. It s just a dream come true, Banks said Thursday.

Online:www.innocenceproject.org

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