FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASENIJ
THURSDAY, MAY 23, 1997202/307-0703

15 RECEIVE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT GRANTS TO ANALYZE DNA

Total of 44 States Using Federal Funds to Improve Labs

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Justice Department is making grants totaling over $2.65 million to 15 states, including Massachusetts, Ohio, and Oregon, to develop or improve their capability to analyze DNA evidence. The program, administered by the Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ), was authorized by the DNA Identification Act of 1994, which passed as part of President Clinton's 1994 Crime Law.

"Many researchers consider the use of DNA technology to help determine innocence or guilt as the most significant advance in criminal investigation since the advent of fingerprint identification," said NIJ Director Jeremy Travis. "These grants will help states take full advantage of this technology and gain access to state-of-the-art equipment that will, without a doubt, help them in their investigative and prosecutorial efforts."

Thirteen of the 15 awards announced today will support new initiatives, while two expand efforts begun under the last year's program, through which NIJ awarded $8.75 million to 31 states. The President has requested $15 million for this program for FY 1998.

In addition to upgrading analysis equipment, many of the states receiving grants will participate in the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which allows crime laboratories to store and match DNA records from convicted offenders and crime scene evidence. Through CODIS, states manage their own DNA databases and can search other state DNA databases through the FBI's national index, similar to the way the National Crime Information Center system operates. Forty-three states now have the capability to access CODIS.

Currently, 45 states allow DNA evidence to be admitted as evidence in state criminal trials. The five states that do not allow admission of such evidence are working to make DNA evidence admissible in trials.

Last June, NIJ sponsored the First National Conference on the Future of DNA: Implications for the Criminal Justice System, which convened forensic science experts, law enforcement officials, and other criminal justice system professionals who are leaders in DNA research and the use of DNA evidence in criminal cases. Participants discussed problems working on cases involving DNA evidence, as well as issues related to DNA laboratories and testing technologies that can reduce the cost for DNA tests. NIJ will co-sponsor the Second Annual National Conference in Sacramento, California, May 27-28.

In June of 1996, NIJ released "Convicted By Juries, Exonerated by Science: Case Studies in the Use of DNA Evidence to Establish Innocence After Trial," which includes commentaries from noted DNA experts, and provides information on 28 cases in which convicted persons were released from prison as a result of post-trial DNA testing evidence. To obtain a copy of the document, contact the National Criminal Justice Reference Service at 1-800/851-3420.

The attached chart includes contact information for each program and the amount each initiative will receive. To obtain additional information on NIJ and its programs, you can access the agency's homepage at: http://www.nij.usdoj.gov. To obtain information on other justice programs, you can also access the Office of Justice Program's homepage at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov.

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NIJ97-068

After Hours Page Doug Johnson at 1-888/582-6750

STATE
GRANTEE
AMOUNT*
CONTACT
PHONE
DE
Department of Health and Social Services
$182,762
Michael L. Wulderk
302/577-3420
ID
State of Idaho
$133,605
Allen D. Jones
208/884-7171
IA
Department of Public Safety
$175,000
Michael L. Rehberg
515/281-3666
LA
State Police
$147,570
Captain Frank L. Tridico
504/925-6216
MA
State Police
$250,000
Lt. Kathleen Stefani
508/358-3100
ME
Department of Public Safety
$147,258
Lt. Michael P. Harriman
207/624-7017
MS
Department of Public Safety
$110,880
Deborah K. Haller
601/987-1600
NE
State Patrol
$150,000
Dr. John Dietrich
402/479-4089
OH
Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation
$367,538
Roger Kahn
614/852-2556
OK
State Bureau of Investigation
$291,880
Darrel W. Wilkins
405/425-3805
OR
State of Oregon
$171,380
Cecilia H. von Beroldingen
503/229-5017
RI
Department of Health
$111,533
Dr. David B. Uliss
401/274-1011
SC
Law Enforcement Division
$178,864
Dr. Matthew G. Fitts
803/896-7383
UT
Department of Public Safety
$175,000
Pilar A. Shortsleeve
801/965-4487
VT
Department of Public Safety
$ 58,958
Dr. Eric Buel
802/244-8788

TOTAL: $2,652,228*

* Award amount is dependent upon final budget review and could change slightly. Awards will be made in approximately 90 days.