The Justice Department has yet to spend any of the $8 million set aside by Congress for DNA tests for convicts to prove their innocence while it has used $214 million to collect DNA from convicted criminals and improve crime labs, USA Today reports. “DNA evidence is such a powerful tool in proving guilt or innocence that it’s inexcusable not to use it,” says Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), sponsor of a bill to provide more funding for what is known as innocence testing.
Rules imposed by Congress have made it difficult for states to qualify for post-conviction DNA grants, says the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which administers the funds. Only Virginia, Connecticut, and Arizona have applied. The law requires a state’s attorney general to certify that the state requires police departments to take “reasonable measures” to preserve biological evidence for possible future testing. Attorneys general can’t vouch for every police authority in their state, says the NIJ’s John Morgan. The rule has made it “next to impossible” for states to qualify, he says.