Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2010, $111,422)
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 Pennsylvania Innocence Project (PIP) through its FY 2010 Wrongful Conviction Review will support their program entitled "Overturning Wrongful Convictions: The Case for Pennsylvania." PIP focuses on individuals incarcerated across Pennsylvania, where the number of inmates (51,000) vastly exceeds the capacity of the state's prison system (43,298). Primary goals of the project are to: 1) provide quality representation to those who may have been wrongfully convicted, 2) alleviate burdens placed on the criminal justice system through costly and prolonged post-conviction litigation, and 3) identify, whenever possible, the actual perpetrator of the crime. They will achieve these goals by: 1) hiring a full-time paralegal to oversee the document gathering and evidence interpretation stage of case review; 2) free up additional time for the PIP legal director to recruit and train new volunteers (including law students and experienced pro bono attorneys), and 3) expand the corps of trained attorneys available to offer pro bono litigation services to wrongfully convicted inmates. In addition, PIP will work with Cornerstone Forensics to develop a model data base for collecting and categorizing case documents, monitoring progress of wrongful conviction cases, and tracking the identification of actual perpetrators.