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Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,800,000)

Since 1989, 573 people have been exonerated after post-conviction review
of DNA evidence in their cases. As DNA technology has evolved, there remain significant gaps
in its application and availability to innocent California prisoners. Resources are inadequate to
assist the nearly 100,000 prisoners housed in a state that spans 163,696 square miles. Advances
in DNA testing have expanded the group of cases where DNA testing and analysis could lead to
exonerations. Methods such as forensic genealogical DNA testing, touch-DNA testing, and
probabilistic genotyping are increasingly being used by law enforcement to solve criminal cases
and find actual perpetrators, but they are not routinely applied. Faulty forensics have also created
a need for DNA testing. The FBI’s admission that hair comparison analysts gave flawed
testimony against criminal defendants prior to 2000 has prompted states to identify convictions
based on hair comparison evidence and to DNA test evidence in those cases.
The Northern California Innocence Project and the California Innocence Project Foundation help
wrongfully convicted prisoners advance innocence claims. The two projects (hereafter Ca-IPs)
receive 2,500 requests for assistance annually and have directly freed 72 people. If funded, the
Ca-IPs will continue their work as the California DNA Assistance Program (CADNAP), with the
California Office of Emergency Services having oversight.
The project has four goals: (1) identify postconviction cases of violent felony offenses, (2)
review identified cases to determine whether DNA testing can prove actual innocence, (3) locate
evidence associated with such cases, and (4) perform DNA analysis of evidence. CADNAP
seeks to identify cases amenable to advanced DNA testing methods and analysis, including
forensic genealogical DNA testing, touch-DNA testing, and probabilistic genotyping. CADNAP
will target 2,500 case reviews during the grant cycle and will identify cases from new assistance
requests, screen the CA-IPs’ closed case databases, partner with prison service organizations,
provide prisons with CADNAP outreach materials, and continue investigation of cases from
previous grant cycles. CADNAP will investigate cases fitting program criteria: evidence
gathered, transcripts acquired, witnesses interviewed, and communication established with prior
attorneys and prosecutors. If evidence is in testable condition, CADNAP will seek negotiated
testing agreements. When unable to obtain agreements, CADNAP will file motions for courtordered testing. If test results are exculpatory, CADNAP will seek cooperation from prosecuting
agencies to obtain relief. When cooperation is not attained, CADNAP will refer cases to the CaIPs for habeas litigation. CADNAP will produce a final report with findings and

Date Created: September 27, 2023