Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2010, $253,540)
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 New England Innocence Project (NEIP) will continue its work with exonerating wrongly convicted individuals in the six New England states through the use of DNA evidence. NEIP has exonerated six individuals and assisted in exonerating others. NEIP has developed a comprehensive case review system and works with a network of New England attorneys to provide high quality representation to inmates with claims of actual innocence. This Project also benefits from a collaborative relationship with law enforcement and other participants in the criminal justice system.
In March 2009, NEIP expanded its mission to include cases in which scientific testing or other investigative leads could uncover probative evidence of actual innocence. Expanding the mission has increased the number of cases the project handles, as well as the cost and complexity of providing effective legal representation. In order to speedily and efficiently process the cases, NEIP will build on its established intake system by adding a full-time Intake Coordinator and upgrading its database. This will provide additional investigative and litigation support to its attorney network.
They will create an Investigation and Litigation Support Fund to provide investigation and litigation support and training to network attorneys. Covered costs will include investigation, testing, expert consultation and testimony, and litigation support in NEIP cases. The fund will also cover the costs of trainings to ensure that network attorneys are kept abreast of the latest developments and techniques in wrongful conviction investigation and litigation.