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Postconviction DNA Testing Assistance Program Roundtable Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2011
37 pages
This report summarizes the presentations and discussion at the Postconviction DNA Testing Assistance Program Roundtable held in Arlington, VA, on June 2-3, 2011.
In welcoming remarks, the Director of the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) notes that the NIJ is currently funding 15 States in their efforts to conduct postconviction DNA testing, which not only has the potential to exonerate innocent persons, but also impacts evidence location and other important areas. A member of the NIJ staff observed that there has been concern about the small number of applicants for the Postconviction DNA Testing Assistance Program. NIJ hopes to increase this number by determining why States are not applying and finding out what can be done to assist them. Another concern is that the States that have been awarded funding are not spending it in an expeditious manner. Another series of presentations addressed the current state of postconviction statutes, provided updates on Innocence Projects across the country, and touched on the programs' work with integrity units. Three presentations highlight work that is in process with NIJ's Postconviction DNA Testing Assistance Program grantees. The project representatives summarized their programs, with an emphasis on successes and challenges. Given the volume and complexities of postconviction cases, collaboration among involved organizations is crucial. One presentation addressed the successes and challenges of reducing backlogs, given the cooperation, or lack of it, of various agencies. Issues of evidence location in NA cases have contributed to a national trend toward re-evaluating the way biological evidence is preserved. One presentation highlighted policy and practical issues relating to DNA evidence retention and the impact of these issues on postconviction DNA cases. The final presentation facilitated a discussion designed to identify the most significant challenges influencing postconviction DNA case review in State or local jurisdictions, such as areas that are not working operationally. Closing remarks are included.

Date Published: June 1, 2011