Fighting for Justice
since 2014

Our History

Our foundation was officially established in the Netherlands in 2014 in order to create awareness for Clinton Young’s death penalty case. Our legal director Merel Pontier joined in 2017.

In 2020, the foundation was officially established by Merel in Texas. Over the years, the foundation has grown into an international team of dedicated and passionate volunteers with diverse backgrounds, expertise, and experiences, focusing on wrongful convictions in capital murder cases in Texas.


Our Mission

The Foundation’s mission is to help those wrongfully convicted of capital murder in Texas. While it all began with Clinton, we are now expanding to as many others as our resources allow. We also focus on the ‘slow death penalty’ – those who have been wrongfully convicted but sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison. We investigate, we litigate, and we educate the public about injustices in the American criminal justice system.

Our Team

Board Members

Amy Tamayo

Board Member (US)

Marlou Cornelissen

Board Member (US & NL)

Desiree Lam

Board Member (NL)

Charles Rice

Board Member (US)


Merel Pontier

Legal Director & Co-founder

Merel is a licensed attorney in the State of Texas and has law degrees from law schools in both the USA and the Netherlands. Merel has worked for renowned law firms in New York, Louisiana, Curacao, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam and has 5 legal publications, including two books. Merel founded CYF US and works for CYF in Austin, Texas.

Elyse Heuvelman

Legal Assistant

Elyse graduated law school in the Netherlands with a Master in Criminal Law. Elyse has worked for several renowned law firms in the Netherlands. Elyse moved to Austin, Texas in 2022 to assist Merel and work on the Foundation’s capital cases.

Love Engman

Legal Intern

Hailing from Sweden, Love has completed his Law degree at the University of Bristol Law School. Love is moving to Austin in 2023 to assist Merel in the Foundation’s Capital Defence work as well as completing a Masters of Law at the University of Texas in Capital punishment and Constitutional Law.

Our Ambassadors

Clive Stafford Smith

Capital Defense Attorney

Clive has decades of experience in capital work and has represented over 300 prisoners facing the death penalty in the southern United States. While he only took on the cases of those who could not afford a lawyer – he has never been paid by a client – and always the most despised, he prevented the death penalty in all but six cases.
Clive advises our legal team when asked.

Geert-Jan Knoops & Carry Knoops-Hamburger

Criminal Defense Attorneys

Geert-Jan and Carry are considered to be the best criminal defense attorneys in The Netherlands. They represent defendants in the International Criminal Court and are well known for their work on innocence cases. With their Innocence Project NL, Geert-Jan and Carry have secured the freedom of several wrongfully convicted people.

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