U.S. Government to Fund Wrongful Conviction Representation and Training Efforts
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance, an office within the Department of Justice, announced recently that it will provide nearly $2.5 million in funding this year for 11 organizations working to represent defendants seeking to overturn wrongful convictions. The funding is dedicated to organizations that handle cases where DNA testing cannot help prove innocence. The BJA also announced that it will provide about $100,000 to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to facilitate training to help attorneys and organizations to improve the capacity to represent defendants seeking to prove their innocence in post-conviction appeals.
The organizations awarded grants are: the Idaho Innocence Project, the Innocence Project of Minnesota, the Kentucky Innocence Project, the Midwestern Innocence Project, the Northern California Innocence Project, the Alaska Innocence Project, the Cooley Innocence Project (at Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan), the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, the Innocence Project of Florida, the Michigan State Appellate Defender’s Office and the Arizona Justice Project.
The Innocence Project is a separate non-profit organization from the organizations above, many of which are fellow members of the Innocence Network – an affiliation of organizations dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions. The Innocence Project only handles cases where DNA testing could prove innocence.
Read more in the BJA statement on the grants.
The Department of Justice also announced recently that it would fund DNA testing in cases of possible wrongful conviction in nine states under the Postconviction DNA Testing Assistance Program. The nine states receiving funds this year are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Mexico and Wisconsin.