Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $550,000)
With over 47,227 people currently incarcerated in prison, Georgia has the 8th highest rate of incarceration in the United States. Georgia’s most populous county, Fulton County, is responsible for the highest percentage of inmates, with 4304 inmates or 9.02% of the entire prison population. Most of these convictions are for serious violent crime.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office established a Conviction Integrity Unit to review claims of innocence. Since it’s inception in 2019, FCDA-CIU has exonerated 4 individuals. Based on our work to date, FCDA-CIU anticipates at least 140 new serious violent felony cases during the time of the grant will involve DNA evidence that needs to be located and tested.
The FCDA-CIU strategy includes efforts to remove barriers to Advance Racial Equity and Support Underserved Communities, OJP priority A. The majority of cases seen by the FCDA-CIU involve Black Men (65.5% Black males). Allowing people from under-represented communities to remain in prison because their cases are hard to reopen does not serve public safety. The FCDA-CIU is seeking funding from the Postconviction Testing of DNA grant to strengthen our work by funding personnel to review, investigate and resolve claims of innocence involving DNA evidence. Without this money, FCDA-CIU would not have the resources to focus on wrongful conviction cases involving DNA. Funds will support one full-time Assistant District Attorney (ADA). This position will be dedicated to working on DNA cases 100% of the time.
The goal and objectives for this project are to: 1) review postconviction claims of innocence which might involve DNA which could prove the identity of the perpetrator; 2) locate biological evidence associated with these cases, 3) obtain DNA testing on relevant evidence; 4) evaluated the evidence as it related to the case; and 5) resolve the case.