Grey-filled circle with a justice scale icon inside

Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence (Postconviction) Program

ABOUT POSTCONVICTION

Under the Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence (Postconviction) Program, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) provides funding to help defray the costs (e.g., of additional personnel, overtime, testing supplies and services) associated with postconviction DNA testing for violent felony offenses (as defined by state law) in which actual innocence might be demonstrated. This supports the DOJ mission “to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.” While successful exonerations to correct injustice are notable program outcomes, the careful review, consideration, and closing of cases subjected to postconviction DNA testing that do not ultimately demonstrate innocence also work to advance the public’s interest that justice has been fairly applied.

 

The program aims to assist in:

  1. Identifying potential postconviction DNA testing cases.
  2. Reviewing appropriate postconviction cases to identify those in which DNA testing could prove the actual innocence of a person convicted of a violent felony offense as defined by state law.
  3. Locating biological evidence associated with such postconviction cases.
  4. Performing DNA analysis of appropriate biological evidence and reporting and reviewing of the DNA test results.

 

To learn more about the Postconviction Program and potential funding opportunities, please visit Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence (Postconviction) Program.

Since the advent of forensic DNA analysis, a growing number of Americans convicted of violent crimes have been exonerated through DNA analysis of evidence that was untested at the time of trial. New technologies have increased the likelihood of successful DNA analysis of aged, degraded, limited, or otherwise compromised biological evidence. As a result, crime scene samples once thought unsuitable for testing may now yield viable DNA profiles. Moreover, samples that had previously generated inconclusive DNA results may be amenable to reanalysis using newer methods.

Key Performance Metrics

  • More than 180,000 cases reviewed and more than 700,000 hours of case review performed
  • More than 2,000 cases where DNA analysis was performed
  • More than 300 profiles uploaded to Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and more than 100 CODIS hits
  • 64 exonerations have resulted from this program representing more than 1,400 years served in prison

GRANTEES

This map is representative of all Postconviction Program awards made since 2020.

If you are interested in viewing more award data, please visit the OJP Award Data webpage.

LIST OF GRANTEES
GRANTEE NAMESTATEFISCAL YEAR(S)
CAL STATE LA UNIVERSITY AUXILIARY SERVICES INCCA2020 & 2022
COUNTY OF SACRAMENTOCA2021
OFFICE OF EMERGENCY SERVICESCA2020, 2021, & 2023
THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADOCO2021
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR OF DELAWAREDE2022
COUNTY OF FULTONGA2020 & 2022
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAIIHI2021
STATE OF IOWA DEPARTMENT OF INSPECTIONS & APPEALSIA2023
BOISE STATE UNIVERSITYID2020 & 2021
COUNTY OF COOKIL2021
STATE OF ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERALIL2023
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOISIL2021
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKYKY2021
LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITYLA2020 & 2022
ORLEANS PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEYLA2021
COMMITTEE FOR PUBLIC COUNSEL SERVICESMA2020
COUNTY OF MACOMBMI2023
COUNTY OF WAYNEMI2020 & 2022
MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF ATTORNEY GENERALMI2022
THE CURATORS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURIMO2020
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI SYSTEMMO2021
JUDICIARY COURTS OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINANC2020 & 2022
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF LAW & PUBLIC SAFETYNJ2020
RESEARCH FOUNDATION OF THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORKNY2020
FRANKLIN COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERSOH2021
CITY OF PHILADELPHIAPA2021
UNIVERSITY OF PUERTO RICOPR2022
COUNTY OF TRAVISTX2021
DALLAS COUNTY TEXASTX2020 & 2022
WASHINGTON STATE PATROLWA2020 & 2022

RESOURCES

Publications

🔍

The National Institute of Justice’s Report to Congress: Needs Assessment of Forensic Laboratories and Medical Examiner/Coroner Offices

In conducting this needs assessment, the Department identified the importance of strengthening these types of efforts through the increased use and institutionalization of systems-based approaches. Further, this needs assessment compiles demonstrative evidence of how the field adapts to advancements in technology, changes in the volume and types of forensic evidence...

Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward

Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward provides a detailed plan for addressing these needs and suggests the creation of a new government entity, the National Institute of Forensic Science, to establish and enforce standards within the forensic science community. Continue reading…...

Forensic Genetic Genealogy Laboratory Considerations and Technology Limitations

The application of forensic genetic genealogy (FGG) has technological limitations and will not resolve every case. By taking the time to thoroughly evaluate cases and associated evidence with both local crime laboratory representatives and FGG vendor laboratory representatives, law enforcement investigators can greatly increase the chances of attaining successful case...
Load More

Multi-Media

🔍

FY2024 Solicitation Webinar – Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence (Postconviction) Program

This webinar, presented by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), features an overview of the FY2024 Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence (Postconviction) Program solicitation. As part of this presentation, BJA discusses various elements of the solicitation, changes that have been implemented from previous iterations of the program, eligibility requirements, and...

FY2023 Grantee Orientation Webinar – Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence (Postconviction) Program

This webinar features the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) introducing Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence (Postconviction) Program grantees to the overall BJA team that works collectively to administer their award funds including the BJA Policy Office and BJA Programs Office. This webinar provides useful training information on how to accept...

The National Registry of Exonerations

The Registry provides detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989—cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all the charges based on new evidence of innocence. Continue reading…...
Load More

Protocols

🔍

DOJ Interim Policy Forensic Genetic Genealogical DNA Analysis and Searching

The purpose of this interim policy is to promote the reasoned exercise of investigative, scientific, and prosecutorial discretion in cases that involve forensic genetic genealogical DNA analysis and searching (‘FGGS’). (Description taken directly from the policy document) Continue reading…...
Load More

Research

🔍
Research coming soon.
Load More

HIGHLIGHTS AND EVENTS

BJA Forensics Programs FY23 Grantees

Congratulations and welcome to all BJA Forensics Programs FY23 grantees! Continue reading…...

Attorney General Nessel Announces Vacated Wrongful Convictions in Calhoun County

The convictions of Louis Wright, 65, have been vacated pursuant to a collaborative review by the Michigan Department of Attorney General’s Conviction Integrity Unit, the Calhoun County Prosecutor’s Office, the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division, and the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Innocence Project. This review concluded that...

DNA testing leads to exoneration of California man imprisoned nearly 3 decades on kidnapping and sexual assault convictions

In January 1995, a man and woman were robbed at gunpoint by two men who had also sexually assaulted the woman. Days after the crime, Gerardo Cabanillas, who was 18 at the time, was arrested because he generally matched the description of one of the suspects. Mr. Cabanillas was coerced...
Load More

Upcoming Events

2nd Annual BJA Forensics Programs Grantees Meeting

On behalf of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Forensics Training and Technical Assistance (Forensics TTA) Team, led by RTI International, is hosting the 2nd Annual BJA Forensics Programs Grantees Meeting, on June 10-11, 2024! Continue reading…...
Load More

Past Events

1st Annual BJA Forensics Programs Grantees Meeting

On behalf of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Forensics Training and Technical Assistance (Forensics TTA) Team, led by RTI International, is hosting the 1st Annual BJA Forensics Programs Grantees Meeting, scheduled for October 2-3, 2023! Continue reading…...
Load More