DOJ Press Release letterhead

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
  • Tuesday, October 20, 2009
  • WWW.OJP.GOV
  • Office of Justice Programs
  • Contact: Sheila Jerusalem
  • (202) 307-0703

California Receives Funds for Testing in Postconviction Cases

State Receives $2.5 Million to Investigate Innocence Claims

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today announced over $2.5 million was awarded to the state of California to help defray costs associated with reviewing of cases where DNA testing and evidence may prove actual innocence. The Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP), National Institute of Justice (NIJ) will administer the grants through the Postconviction Testing Program.

“Earlier this year, our nationwide symposium on post conviction DNA issues received overwhelming response from prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, crime laboratory personnel, advocates, victims and law enforcement personnel from nearly all the 50 states,” said OJP Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary Lou Leary.“ We look forward to continue working with California to use DNA technology to protect the innocent and bring the guilty to justice.”

The California Innocence Project, a program of California Western School of Law, and the Northern California Innocence Project, a program of Santa Clara University plans to utilize grant funds to assist defense lawyers and law students seek the release of wrongfully convicted prisoners in the state of California.

The 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.

In January, NIJ held a national symposium to allow states to share information and ideas that could improve processes related to post-conviction DNA cases. The symposium also provided an opportunity for networking among key people from around the country. Approximately 300 attendees - prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement agencies and crime laboratories representing 46 states and one territory - were able to attend the symposium. Also in attendance were representatives from the five states - Arizona, Kentucky, Texas, Virginia and Washington - to which NIJ awarded nearly $8 million in postconviction funding in 2008.

More information on the NIJ - sponsored National Postconviction Symposium held in Tampa, Florida, January, 22 - 23 2009 is available at: http://www.nij.gov/events/postconviction-symposium.htm.

Additional awards were provided to Colorado ($1.1 M), Connecticut ($1.4 M), Louisiana ($1.3 M), Maryland ($307 K), New Mexico ($924 K), Minnesota ($859 K), North Carolina ($566 K), and Wisconsin ($647 K) totaling $9.8 million.

More information on the DNA Initiative is available at http://www.dna.gov.

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The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary Lou Leary, 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

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