We are excited to share that the New England Innocence Project is one of 100 local nonprofits to receive a grant of $100,000 through the Cummings Foundation’s “$100K for 100” program. We were chosen from a total of 574 applicants during a competitive review process.
Our team plans to use the funds to support the hiring of an attorney with specific expertise in forensic science for a 2-year project. This Forensic Science Justice Attorney will provide expertise on cases with complex forensic science issues in Suffolk and Middlesex Counties in both the post-conviction stage to correct wrongful convictions and the pretrial stage to prevent future wrongful convictions.
“It is our goal to bridge the gap between science and law – to bring more accuracy and reliability into the courtroom, and as a result, a sense of integrity and justice. Without the Cummings Foundation, we would not have the resources to pilot this project, to begin exploring how specialized training could enhance our current work correcting wrongful convictions and how knowledge might actually prevent these tragedies from occurring in the first place,” said Radha Natarajan, Executive Director of the New England Innocence Project.
In more than 70% of wrongful convictions revealed through DNA evidence, eyewitness misidentification was a factor, and in almost half (45%), there was a ‘misapplication’ of forensic science. Through expertise in the science of memory, DNA, pathology, or a pattern-matching discipline, the Forensic Science Justice Attorney would work to address some of the greatest causes of wrongful conviction.
“We are so grateful that the Cummings Foundation is partnering with us in this visionary project that we hope will be a model for staffing forensics experts throughout our 6-state territory, ultimately helping our organization to better achieve its mission,” added Natarajan.
Learn more about the Cummings Foundation at www.CummingsFoundation.org.