As submitted by the proposer:
The Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies at the University of Kansas School of Law, in collaboration with the Midwest Innocence Project, seeks funding to defray the costs of postconviction DNA testing in cases of violent felony offenses in which actual innocence might be demonstrated and proven through further investigation, data collection, and litigation. The Project for Innocence is a law school clinical course, established in 1965, that obtained its first DNA exoneration for a client in 1995. But, as part of a state university whose primary mission is to teach students to practice law, the KU Clinic has never had the necessary financial or personnel resources to efficiently serve potential DNA clients. The Midwest Innocence Project is a non-profit whose mission is to identify and exonerate innocent persons who were wrongfully convicted. It serves the five-state region of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Arkansas.
The Project for Innocence and MIP entered an agreement to increase funding and efficiency. MIP serves as a Point of Entry for potential DNA clients and as Legal Coordinator for Kansas and MIPs other partners. MIP has a strong screening process and framework, including a case management database, Amicus, which effectively identifies potential DNA cases. Appropriate cases are referred to the KU Clinic for students to review, and as needed, locate and have analyzed the biological evidence. Other cases are referred as appropriate to other partners in the service area or nationally.
Independent studies estimate that between 2% and 7% of all inmates in America have been falsely convicted. Using these percentages, of the approximately 72,000 men and women incarcerated in in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Arkansas, between 1,500 and 6,000 men and women may be innocent.
MIP currently has 257 pre-screened innocence cases ready for further review in the service area. Grant funding will defray the burdensome expenses of the Project for Innocence and MIP's joint efforts in locating, collecting and testing of DNA evidence in the five-state area.
The goals of this partnership meet the goals of this Grant. The five-state collaboration, with the Project for Innocence and MIP as coordinator and hub, will create efficiencies in case management and overall advancement of exoneration litigation when applicable. Funds from this grant will be spent, in accordance with grant requirements, in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Arkansas in order to identify and ultimately exonerate the innocent through DNA testing.