Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2010, $200,000)
The purpose of the Wrongful Conviction Review Program is to provide high quality and efficient representation for potentially wrongfully convicted defendants in post-conviction claims of innocence. This program is funded under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (Pub. L. 111-117). Post-conviction innocence claims are likely to include complex challenges to the reliability or accuracy of evidence presented at trial which fall mainly into three categories: eyewitness identification evidence; confession evidence; and forensic evidence. The goals of this initiative are to: provide quality representation to those who may have been wrongfully convicted; alleviate burdens placed on the criminal justice system through costly and prolonged post-conviction litigation; and identify, whenever possible, the actual perpetrator of the crime.
The Innocence Project, Inc. will use their 2010 BJA Wrongful Conviction Review
Program Grant award for their Coordinated Strategy for Justice Project. The primary goal is to build upon the Innocence Project's (IP) success by maintaining a balance between speed and quality in the course of reviewing cases and representing clients. It is essential to sustain the IP's current and highly effective team method, comprised of a case assistant, case coordinator, paralegal, and attorney. The programmatic priorities are as follows:
1) maintain a systematized and efficient evaluation process in order to: a)identify the cases most appropriate for the IP's mandate to accept cases on post-conviction appeal where DNA testing can yield conclusive proof of innocence; and b) refer non-DNA cases, if feasible, to IP's partners in the private bar or other Innocence Network organizations that pursue such a mandate; and 2) ensure that the legal staff can focus on finding evidence and moving cases to DNA testing and resolution.