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Achieving Justice in Wisconsin''s Hispanic Community: Post-conviction DNA testing for the Hispanic community

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $633,170)

As submitted by the proposer:

The Wisconsin Innocence Project (WIP) will implement a program to identify and secure DNA testing of evidence in cases of Hispanic inmates claiming to be innocent. Under-representation of Hispanics suggests a systemic problem in serving the Hispanic population. Data both from Wisconsin and nationally reveals that Hispanic prisoners are represented by innocence organizations and exonerated by DNA at rates that are consistently well below their rate of conviction and imprisonment. While language and cultural barriers likely account for much of this, precisely what explains this discrepancy is largely unexplored. Our program seeks to target the Hispanic population to remedy this situation and study and address the causes of the underrepresentation of Hispanics among exonerees. WIP's extensive experience in representing the wrongfully convicted and in using DNA testing to do so, and our access to Spanish-speaking lawyers, students, and translators, makes us the ideal institution to address this problem. The program will begin by conducting outreach efforts in Wisconsin prisons to identify Hispanic individuals claiming innocence. Each of the claims will be reviewed by an Intake Specialist to determine if the case is appropriate for investigation. Investigations will be conducted by faculty attorneys and law students to determine if DNA testing is appropriate. In appropriate cases, WIP will work with prosecutors and courts to obtain DNA testing. In addition to exonerating members of the Hispanic community, this program will provide insight into the barriers Hispanics inmates face when seeking assistance. From this experience, WIP will be able to begin working to remove these barriers in Wisconsin and around the nation.


Date Created: September 22, 2015