Louisiana Receives Funds for Testing in Postconviction CasesState Receives $1.3 Million to Investigate Innocence Claims
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today announced over $1.3 million was awarded to the state of Louisiana 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 Louisiana to use DNA technology to protect the innocent and bring the guilty to justice.”
The state of Louisiana, in partnership with the Orleans Parish Postconviction DNA Testing Project, plans to use the funds to determine the number of cases in which biological evidence exists, review cases for DNA testing, and provide testing for those cases in which innocence or guilt may be proven.
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 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 California ($2.5 M), Colorado ($1.1 M), Connecticut ($1.4 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.
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.NIJ09068