Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2012, $1,256,344)
The grant would fund collaboration between the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the Innocence Project (IP), and the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). Working together, the organizations will pro-actively locate biological evidence from postconviction cases in which actual innocence might be demonstrated through DNA testing and conduct an extensive inventory of biological evidence in the possession of the NYPD. Specifically, the grant will be used to:
1) Convene the New York City Joint Working Group on Postconviction DNA Testing (Working Group), which shall be composed of key senior staff members from the NYPD and the IP. The Working Group will coordinate searches for biological evidence in cases where DNA testing might be exculpatory and collaborate on streamlining the steps required to undertake future searches even after the completion of the one year grant period. The Working Group will also coordinate administrative functions of the project. 2) The NYPD will survey, reclassify, bar-code, and verify the existence of key biological evidence contained in rape kits and other biological evidence containers from cases of targeted crimes - primarily sexual assaults and homicides - dating from years prior to the advent of advanced forensic DNA testing.
3) The IP will hire an additional Case Analyst who will expedite the review of roughly 800 New York City postconviction cases from its current database of 1,436 New York State prisoners whose innocence claims might be resolved by DNA testing, in coordination with the NYPD's evidence-search efforts. The review will determine whether biological evidence exists that might demonstrate actual innocence if subjected to testing.
4) In cases where DNA testing of such evidence might have probative value for postconviction innocence proceedings, this project will fund a portion of the costs of such testing through the Office of Chief Medical Examiner.
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