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Monday, December 4, 2023

Setting the innocent free

Innocence Project’s Chris Fabricant to deliver lecture at URI on junk science, criminal justice and wrongful conviction

M. Chris Fabricant, of the Innocence Project, a noted speaker on the intersection of science, law reform, and social justice, will present at the University of Rhode Island’s Forensic Science Seminar Series on Friday, Dec. 8

The series is marking its 25th year this year. 

Fabricant leads the Innocence Project’s Strategic Litigation Department, which develops and executes national litigation and public policy strategies to address the leading causes of wrongful conviction, including eyewitness misidentification, the misapplication of forensic sciences and false confessions. 

He is one of the United States’s leading experts on forensic science and scientific litigation. A former longtime public defender and law professor, Fabricant frequently serves as a public speaker on legal reform issues and is widely published in both legal scholarship and in mainstream media. 

In his recent book, Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System, Fabricant examines the role that faulty scientific evidence has in continuing and strengthening an unjust and racially biased criminal legal system.

Fabricant is the last speaker in the Seminar’s fall series, which has included speakers from the Providence Police Department, Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association, Department of Homeland Security, and Rhode Island Department of Health, on topics ranging from artificial intelligence to toxicology. 

The unique long-running lecture series takes place in URI’s Beaupre Center on Friday afternoons. URI students attend the series for credit, but lectures are free and open to the public. The series will resume in January, when students return from winter break. 

The series is coordinated by Dennis Hilliard, director of the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory at URI and adjunct professor of pharmacy, and chemistry professor Jimmie Oxley, world renowned explosives and energetic materials expert and co-director of URI’s Center of Excellence in Explosives, Detection, Mitigation, and Response.

In past years, the series has hosted renowned forensic scientist Henry Lee, former URI faculty member Robert Leuci, best-selling suspense novelist Mary Jane Behrends Clark ’76, art crime expert Anthony Amore ’89, and the FBI’s Kirk Yeager, as well as speakers from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, U.S. Secret Service, and more.

Fabricant’s lecture will take place in URI’s Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences (Room 100), 140 Flagg Road, on the Kingston Campus from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Those who cannot attend in person may view the lectures live online or at a later date by visiting the seminar series webpage and clicking on the topic links.

(Schedule subject to change; join email list for updates)

To learn more about the URI Forensic Seminar Series and be added to the series’ email list, email Dennis Hilliard, Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory, at, or call 401-874-5056.