Michigan receives federal grant to help wrongfully convicted prisoners

Grant funds will be used to cover the cost of case reviews, locating evidence, DNA testing of evidence, and hiring additional staff
Grant funds will be used to cover the cost of case reviews, locating evidence, DNA testing of evidence, and hiring additional staff
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 5:39 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A group that has helped get wrongfully convicted people released from prison will be able to expand its work. $550,000 will be used to help get innocent people out of jail.

“More resources to put materials in for testing, to work with laboratories, to explore by scientific issues in the cases,” said Tracey Brame, Director of the Innocence Project at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.

The Innocence Project works with the Conviction Integrity Unit to test DNA for evidence. It helped get Kenneth Nixon released – he thinks the grant will be important for the cause.

“It most certainly will help as we move forward. We need more resources, we need more people, we need more money. That grant is going to be huge, it’s going to help a lot of people out. But there’s still more to be done,” said Nixon.

Nixon was exonerated after 15 years and 9 months.

The grant from the federal government will help pay for case reviews, evidence location, and DNA testing. More than 1,700 inmates will have their cases re-evaluated.

“Of course, it could have been a long time ago. It’d had been a lot more people like me and Ken and everybody else. But yeah, as long as it’s moving – slow motion is better than no motion,” said Ramon Ward.

Ward was exonerated after 26 and a half years.

The Innocence Project is the only organization in Michigan that will test DNA after a person claims they were wrongfully convicted.

“That has led to three exonerations through our office and we absolutely want to continue that work and so the funding that they just received will help us do that,” said Brame.

The Innocence Project and the Conviction Integrity Unit said they will continue correcting any mistakes in the criminal justice system.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel launched the Conviction Integrity Unit in 2019. It works with Western Michigan University Cooley Law School to review forensic cases.

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