SPRINGFIELD - The University of Illinois-Springfield's "Illinois Innocence Project" has been awarded a $753,958 federal grant to clear cases where DNA testing might decide the outcome of individuals who plead guilty and Latinos who might be innocent.
The award is for a United States Department of Justice Bloodsworth Grant, named in honor of Kirk Bloodsworth, the first DNA death penalty exoneration case.
“In Illinois, we’ve seen firsthand how innocent people can get their lives back by taking advantage of post-conviction DNA testing to solve old cases and exonerate the wrongly convicted,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. “The Illinois Innocence Project has worked to ensure fairness and accuracy in the justice system."
Reaching out to help Latinos is one of the UIS Innocence Project's goals.
"Almost 14% of Illinois inmates are Latino who are often wrongfully convicted due to unique barriers involving language, citizenship, and status” said John Hanlon, executive director of the Illinois Innocence Project. “We hope to address these disparities which often lead to improper convictions and create difficulties for Latino inmates by working on cases where the individual can be proved innocent through the use of DNA testing.”