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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, $307,552)

The Delaware Criminal Justice Council (CJC), along with proposed Subrecipient Innocence Delaware, seeks funding to provide personnel and supporting resources to pursue postconviction DNA testing on behalf of those incarcerated in Delaware who claim that they are innocent as a precursor to seeking exoneration where appropriate. At present, Delaware has no independent, non-prosecutorial organization to which an innocent inmate can turn for assistance in finding and securing evidence for DNA testing and for arranging for testing by a reliable laboratory. The CJC will work with Innocence Delaware to fulfill that need if it receives this funding opportunity. The original organizers of Innocence Delaware, professors at Widener University, Delaware Law School, have over a number of years, received dozens of requests from individuals seeking assistance in bringing post-conviction claims of actual innocence. Many of these requests involve cases in which DNA testing, unavailable at the time of trial, might result in exoneration. Last year, a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice to the Delaware Attorney General disclosed that a number of government reports and expert testimony regarding microscopic hair analysis contained errors. This disclosure pertains to a number of Delaware convictions. The letter aptly states that any follow-up on these reported errors may involve DNA testing of the evidentiary samples. There is an increased need for postconviction DNA testing in Delaware in the wake of the DOJ's disclosure. The Delaware CJC is seeking to fund a portion of the salaries for two Innocence Delaware positions, Executive Director and Investigator. The CJC has confidence that with adequate financial resources, Innocence Delaware will be well equipped to competently identify, investigate and pursue the use of DNA science to accomplish the exoneration of innocent prisoners in Delaware. CA/NCF

Date Created: September 16, 2019