A small band of lawyers and investigators soon will fan out across Kentucky to begin an unusual, 18-month mission: searching for inmates innocent of the crimes that sent them to prison. The Louisville Courier-Journal says that Kentucky is one of five states to win U.S. Justice Department grants for such projects; Kentucky’s is $1.1 million. Administered by the Kentucky Innocence Project, the money will be used to review cases involving possible wrongful convictions and in which DNA testing may prove innocence.
Studies suggest that at least 3 percent of inmates were wrongly convicted. Nationwide there have been 234 post-conviction exonerations based on DNA evidence. In Kentucky, 3,489 eligible prison inmates soon will be asked to fill out a 21-page screening questionnaire that seeks detailed personal and case information. To qualify for review, a case must meet two criteria: Evidence must exist that might yield a DNA profile, and that evidence must hold out the prospect of making a difference in a new determination of guilt or innocence.