Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $250,000)
As submitted by the proposer:
Long before jurisdictions were considering whether to implement protocols and procedures to address the issue of wrongful convictions, Orange County implemented an Innocence Review Panel (IRP Program) in 2000. Since that time, over 400 inmates have participated in the IRP Program that consists of Orange County Prosecutors, Orange County Public Defenders and numerous private Orange County Criminal Defense Attorneys. With the cooperation of the Orange County Crime Lab, forensic evidence is tested when the IRP Committee determines that such testing could exonerate an inmate or lessen his or her sentence. The goal of the IRP Program is to provide non-judicial relief to wrongfully convicted inmates based upon forensic evidence. Twice yearly, the IRP Coordinator sends an IRP Information Packet containing inmate application forms to each of California's 34 prison facilities. Each warden is asked to make the contents on the IRP Information packet available to all inmates. There exists, however, a very real question as to whether this method of notification reaches all eligible inmates. A further concern exists as to whether the inmates who received notification fully understand the IRP Program materials.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office, in collaboration with the Orange County Associate Defender's Office, is requesting a grant award of $250,000 to be utilized over a two year time period. Approximately fifteen percent of grant funding will be utilized by Orange County Associate Defender's Office to identify criminal cases that meet IRP Program eligibility requirements. Most of the remaining grant funding will be used by the Orange County Associate Defender's Office to conduct in depth reviews of the identified cases, to conduct case investigation and to personally contact and assist inmates with the IRP application process. During the grant period, it is anticipated that the number of inmates applying to the IRP Program will significantly increase. Therefore a portion of grant funding will be allocated to the Orange County District Attorney's Office to review
and process IRP applications. Following the successful completion of the second year of the project, the Orange County District Attorney's Office and Orange County Associate Defender's Office will jointly request funding from Orange County's Proposition 69 Fund to continue the identification, review and outreach efforts that were achieved during the grant period.