DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE PROVIDES DNA FUNDING FOR POSTCONVICTION CASES
Over $7.8 Million Provided to Five States to Investigate Innocence Claims
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today announced over $7.8 million to Arizona, Kentucky, Texas, Virginia, and Washington to help defray costs associated with reviewing cases where DNA testing and evidence may prove actual innocence.
“Postconviction DNA testing has received significant attention in recent years with the arrival of forensic DNA analysis,” said OJP Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey L. Sedgwick. “More than two hundred people have been exonerated through DNA analysis of crime scene evidence that was not tested at the time of conviction. This funding is another important step in implementing the President's DNA Initiative in an effort to protect the innocent and bring the guilty to justice.”
Administered by OJP's National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the awards are the first to be provided through the Post Conviction Testing Assistance Program. States that receive awards are required to comply with improved standards regarding biological evidence storage and testing procedures. The funding will be used to review cases of forcible rape, murder, and non-negligent manslaughter, and locate and analyze evidence connected with the cases.
The funds will increase the number of cases states can review and will help reduce backlogs of case reviews by increasing staff and equipment. The award amounts that each state received are: Arizona ($1,386,699); Kentucky ($1,164,441); Texas ($500,000); Virginia ($4,520,295); and Washington ($250,306).
The President's DNA Initiative, Advancing Justice through DNA Technology, provides funding, training and assistance to ensure that forensic DNA reaches its full potential to solve crimes, protect the innocent and identify missing persons. DNA testing is not only a predominant forensic technique for identifying criminals, but has become a method of post-conviction exoneration of the innocent. DNA testing makes it possible to obtain conclusive results in cases in which previous testing had been inconclusive or non-existent.
The methods used to collect, preserve, and test DNA evidence is critical to the success of its use in criminal cases. An NIJ publication, Postconviction DNA Testing: Recommendations for Handling Requests is the result of an NIJ working group on postconviction issues and provides recommendations for prosecutors, defense counsels, courts, victims' advocates, and laboratory personnel when receiving requests for postconviction DNA testing. The publication is available on NIJ's DNA Initiative website at www.dna.gov/uses/postconviction/handling-requests.
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at http://www.ojp.gov.