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Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $816,325)

In 1997, Illinois became one of the first states to adopt legislation that provides for postconviction DNA testing to prove actual innocence [725 ILCS 5/116-3]; Illinois recently expanded that legislation to allow offenders who had pled guilty to be afforded the right to DNA testing. Illinois also enacted an evidence preservation law; if DNA material can be retrieved, the newest forensic techniques may provide DNA profiles that could help to resolve old cases and shed new light on previous judgments. Through this solicitation, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is seeking to increase personnel in order to meet the increased demand for and complexity of DNA testing sought by convicted defendants claiming actual innocence. Funds will support one full-time Postconviction DNA Specialist (PDS) and two full-time Postconviction DNA Assistant State’s Attorneys (PDA) to be 100% dedicated to work on DNA-related postconviction cases. The PDAs will review and investigate all DNA-related postconviction cases. The PDS will provide onsite information regarding technical and non-technical DNA issues in regards to post-conviction cases. The PDS will advise the PDAs on specific issues such as the explanation of report findings, statistics and conclusions, and can assist with reexamining any previous DNA reports. The goals for this program are to: 1) review appropriate postconviction cases to identify those in which DNA testing could prove the actual innocence of a person convicted of a violent felony offense(s) as defined by State law; 2) locate biological evidence associated with such postconviction cases, and 3) perform and evaluate DNA analysis of appropriate biological evidence. To achieve these goals we will: 1) review all aspects of at least 150 DNA-related postconviction cases with claims of actual innocence; 2) review at least 150 cases in order to determine if there is biological evidence that needs to be located, and 3) evaluate the located evidence to determine if additional DNA testing needs to be completed and work with the forensic lab to have the tests completed. CA/NCF

Date Created: September 16, 2019