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Wrongful Prosecution Review Program

Award Information

Award #
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $149,600)

This program is funded under both the Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive Grant Program (Byrne Competitive Program) and the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. Authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2009 (Pub. L. 111-8), the Byrne Competitive Program helps local communities improve the capacity of state and local justice systems and provides for national support efforts including training and technical assistance programs strategically targeted to address local needs. The JAG Program (42 U.S.C. 3751(a)) is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions, and JAG funds support all components of the criminal justice system. The JAG Program authorization also provides that 'the Attorney General may reserve not more than 5 percent, to be granted to 1 or more states or units of local government for 1 or more of the purposes specified in section 3751 of this title, pursuant to his determination that the same is necessary ' (1) to combat, address, or otherwise respond to precipitous or extraordinary increases in crime, or in a type or types of crime.' (42 U.S.C. 3756).

The Wrongful Prosecution Review Program is designed to provide high quality and efficient representation for defendants in post-conviction claims of innocence. The goals of this initiative are to provide quality representation to the wrongfully convicted, alleviate burdens placed on the criminal justice system through costly and prolonged post-conviction litigation; and identify, when possible, the actual perpetrator of the crime.

The Thomas M. Cooley Law School, through its 'Cooley Innocence Project," will continue its work on the already existing project to allow students to screen cases to identify wrongfully-convicted individuals using the criteria of Michigan's DNA testing statute MCL § 770.16. The statute requires that an inmate prove that the DNA evidence is available to be tested, which can be difficult because of the age of the case and because of the disarray of many of the property rooms of local law enforcement agencies. This project will address the issue by: 1) reviewing backlog cases to assess whether post-conviction DNA requests can be submitted to court, 2) increase post-conviction DNA testing in appropriate cases, 3) reduce the amount of turnaround time in completing post-conviction DNA testing cases, 4) improve and increase the rapid location of evidence in cases, and 5) increase the expertise in reviewing laboratory reports and other information requiring specific expertise.


Date Created: September 22, 2009