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Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Past Project Period End Date
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $861,650)

The Kentucky Innocence Project (“KIP”) is seeking funding through the National Institute of Justice Post conviction Testing of DNA Evidence Initiative in order to assist KIP to identify cases, locate the evidence in these cases, and obtain DNA analysis. KIP is housed within the Department of Public Advocacy (DPA) and is part of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet (JPSC) in Kentucky. This funding will be used to test evidence that has not previously been tested and/or to retest DNA using more recent testing techniques in order to provide more accurate DNA profiles. Kentucky has the twelfth highest incarceration rate in the United States and is above the national average. Kentucky houses over 23,000 inmates in their state run correctional institutions at a rate of 869/100,000 individuals which is well over the national average of 698/100,000. Estimates are that 3-6% of all inmates are wrongfully convicted, meaning that roughly between 700 and 1400 individuals reside in our Kentucky prisons who are wrongfully convicted. KIP will use these grant funds to review not only incoming cases, but also to review an approximate backlog of over 450 cases to seek those that have viable claims of innocence, to improve identification of viable cases, to provide extensive screening and information gathering necessary to determine if these cases are suitable for DNA testing, to investigate and locate evidence, to consult with witnesses and prosecutors, and to analyze biological evidence from each viable case. The funding will also be used to reconsider over 1400 prior applications that Department of Public Advocacy (DPA) Kentucky Innocence Project (KIP) Post-Conviction Testing of DNA Evidence Initiative 2019 might benefit from more recent DNA technologies, and to provide testing for cases that might otherwise go untested. Funds will be used to provide the necessary staff of two investigators and two paralegals in order to conduct these investigations. Funds will also be used to defray the cost of laboratory testing, to provide both computer equipment and forensic supplies for handling evidence, for travel expenses to investigate cases and collect evidence, and to defray to cost of laboratory testing and the cost of necessary consultants and contractor services. Utilizing these funds, the KIP will work collaboratively among the agencies in the JSPC, as well with the Administrative Office of the Courts, County and Commonwealth Agencies, and the Attorney General to identify those cases which would benefit from DNA testing and to obtain the results of such testing in order to exonerate innocent Kentuckians. CA/NCF

Date Created: September 16, 2019