Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $499,874)
The Kentucky Innocence Project (“KIP”) and the Department of Public Advocacy ("DPA") seeks funding through the BJA Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence Initiative in order to assist KIP to identify cases, locate the evidence in these cases, and obtain DNA analysis. This funding will be used to test evidence that has not previously been tested and/or to retest DNA using more recent testing techniques in order to provide more accurate DNA profiles. According to the most current statistics from The Sentencing Project, Kentucky has the seventh highest incarceration rate in the United States, well above the national average. Kentucky houses over 23,000 inmates in their state run correctional institutions. Estimates are that 3-6% of all inmates are wrongfully convicted, meaning that roughly between 700 and 1400 individuals reside in our Kentucky prisons who are wrongfully convicted.
This funding will allow KIP to DNA test cases that might otherwise go untested. KIP will use grant funds to review incoming cases, and to investigate current open DNA cases. Funds will be used to provide the necessary staff of an investigator and an attorney to investigate cases, identify those cases where individual may have been wrongfully convicted, and to initiate DNA testing in these cases. Funds will also be used for travel expenses in investigations and evidence collection, and to defray to cost of laboratory testing and the cost of necessary consultants and contractor services.
KIP will work collaboratively among the agencies in the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, as well with the Administrative Office of the Courts, County and Commonwealth Agencies, and the Attorney General to identify those cases which would benefit from DNA testing and to obtain the results of such testing in order to exonerate innocent Kentuckians. The goals for this program are to: (1) review postconviction cases to identify those in which DNA testing could prove actual innocence; (2) locate relevant biological evidence; (3)obtain and evaluate DNA analysis of appropriate biological evidence; and (4) resolve cases as appropriate.