Wednesday, 7 October 2009

DNA exoneration project gets $1.2 million

By Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post
POSTED: 10/01/2009 09:12:21 AM MDT
UPDATED: 10/01/2009 11:31:46 AM MDT

The newly-created Colorado Justice Review Project, which will review 5,000 rapes, murders and manslaughters to ascertain if defendants were wrongly convicted, has received $1.2 million in federal grant funds.

The DNA project will be administered by the Colorado Attorney General's Office and the Denver District Attorney's Office.

Under the program, some people previously convicted of felonies can apply to have DNA testing performed in their case, according to the Colorado Attorney General's Office.

"DNA is one of law enforcement's most effective tools for convicting the guilty and exonerating the innocent," Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said in a release. "These grant funds will allow us to use DNA to ensure that no Coloradan has been wrongly convicted."

Suthers said that in addition to working with the Denver District Attorney's Office, he will work with several other organizations, including the University of Denver College of Law, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Colorado Public Defender's Office.

The organizations will help run the program and select which cases will be reviewed.

The Attorney General's Office applied for the federal grant. In its proposal, the AG's office said that its goal is to test biological evidence in roughly one percent of the cases where DNA evidence could exonerate innocent inmates; request further judicial review in any case where post-conviction DNA analysis proves a conviction is questionable, document cases that result in exoneration and close any cases where post-conviction DNA analysis indicates the conviction was accurate.

CBI director Ron Sloan said in the release that he was convinced Colorado should undertake such a program after attending a U.S. Justice Department symposium last January that focused on post-conviction DNA casework.

"CBI is excited about being an active participant in this program," said Sloan. "We will provide technical investigative assistance and forensic expertise to the Attorney General, Denver District Attorney's Office and the state's public defender."

Added Sloan: "I am hopeful that CBI's expertise will be valuable in identifying wrongful convictions..."

Suthers said his office will also use the program's findings to help law enforcement change its investigative techniques to reduce or eliminate future wrongful convictions.

Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939 or

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