Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2012, $589,638)
This proposal seeks funds for the Illinois Innocence Project, based at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS), to continue efforts to help alleviate the backlog and improve access to DNA testing in actual innocence cases involving violent felony offenses as defined by Illinois State law. Under its current Bloodsworth grant, the Project has been focusing on cases in downstate Illinois, essentially the bottom two-thirds of the state. The Project requests funds to extend its reach to the many requests it has received but has not been able to address, in addition to new requests, in northern counties of Illinois. The Project will review and investigate northern cases to determine presence of DNA evidence and arrange for DNA testing through private laboratories where this appears crucial to verifying a claim of actual innocence.
Under direction of the Project, faculty, staff, and students from all four institutions: UIS, NIU, UIUC, and SIU will be involved in a coordinated, intensive review and investigation of already identified and screened DNA eligible cases in northern Illinois to determine the strength of DNA evidence and actual innocence claims. They will assist in reviewing cases, finding evidence, drafting motions to gain DNA testing, and participate in postconviction court hearings. When testing is ordered or otherwise agreed to, testing will, as a general practice where CODIS is involved, be done at a laboratory certified by the State of Illinois Crime Laboratory. The Laboratory will review the results and run them through CODIS to determine matches.