Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $526,995)
The current project seeks support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Upholding the Rule of Law and Preventing Wrongful Conviction Program. The Shelby County District Attorney General’s (SCDAG) office seeks to expand its ability to provide post-conviction integrity to cases in Memphis and Shelby County. Currently, the Justice Review Unite receives several applications daily to review cases to ensure justice has been legally applied. A four-stage process has been developed to process cases to ensure integrity through expedited means. Although these processes have been developed there is much work to ensure a backlog of cases does not develop. Currently, the JRU sees approximately 100 new applications a month. One remedy for this concern is JRU expansion. An additional prosecutor and paralegal would provide the office with the ability to keep up with current JRU requests. In addition, equipment and other supplies are needed to support the foundation of the unit. This would further assist the unit with the ability to process cases and strengthen record management to determine risk factors for case integrity. As cases are processed and recorded, identification of likely suspects will continue through the exoneration process. Additionally, current prosecutors and staff at SCDAG will be trained or cased integrity issue. The evaluation of the project will be conducted by researchers at the University of Memphis. Data collected by the SCDAG JRU will be anonymized for researchers to assess goals and milestones of the project. Data are to be shared with stakeholders and reported quarterly.