Federal grant to aid effort by inmates to prove innocence using DNA evidence
The NYPD, the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and The Innocence Project recently received a $1.25 million grant from the National Institute of Justice to aid the claims of incarcerated individuals in New York City who are seeking to prove their innocence with the help of DNA evidence.
The Innocence Project write on their website, they are a non profit “national and litigation public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system…” The Innocence Project has exonerated 297 people with DNA testing, including 17 who served time on death row.
The grant will be put towards cataloging years of evidence in order to improve access for inmates and their lawyers. Distributed over two years, most of the funding will go to the NYPD to reclassify the evidence in storage collection and sort through sexual assault and homicide cases by using the new, modernized evidence-tracking system.
“We are grateful to the NYPD for their willingness to work together to develop a system for cataloging decades of evidence so that the many people who have been trying to prove their innocence through DNA testing will finally have an opportunity to do so,” said Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project in the NYPD Press Release.
The Innocence Project will use their part of the grant to hire a new staff member to review 800 cases of people convicted in New York City who are hoping to use DNA to prove their innocence and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will use their share of the funding to cover some of the costs of DNA testing.