General

In response to last week’s AJC article about our federal grant

From Aimee Maxwell, Executive Director

Last Thursday I was driving to work, looking forward to a fantastic day. That afternoon was our Intern Orientation – I just love talking about our work with our great new interns. I was almost to work when I got a call from a GIP supporter who is now a good friend. Before I could even say hello, she practically screamed – “What are we going to do about that article? I’m going to call everyone I know and have them write the editor.” When I asked “What article,” she read the headline “$424,000 spent on legal innocence project, and only 1 person found.”

Honestly, I think I actually felt my heart break a little. We were able to do amazing work as a result of this grant. How could the reporter have gotten it so WRONG?

My mind went red. I couldn’t think for a moment (fortunately, I was stopped at a light). I was jarred back when my friend screamed “THIS IS JUST NOT RIGHT.” I moaned and told her I needed to get off the phone. The rest of my drive was filled with dread.

When I finally read the article I was a bit relieved. The headline was incredibly inflammatory but the article itself wasn’t as bad as I feared. I was, however, struck by how misleading the entire article was. There was so much left out and so much confused.

I made what I think was the smartest decision I could make. I did not immediately respond. I decided to calmly reflect on the piece and find a way to provide you, our friends and supporters, the correct information about this grant.

And so, a week later, I blog. I will, over the next few days (maybe taking the weekend off) tell you about what we were able to accomplish thanks to the two-year Department of Justice grant which ended on December 31, 2015. We are very proud of our work and I hope you will be also.

Here’s what you can expect to learn:

  • How we formed an unprecedented, and incredibly successful, partnership with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) and the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia (PAC).
  • The analysis PAC did on over 3000 CODIS hits.
  • The investigation GIP conducted into 73 CODIS hits that might relate to an innocence claim.
  • The database GBI created of over 20,000 pieces of evidence in their vault.
  • The evaluation GIP conducted of over 200 cases relating to evidence in the GBI vault.
  • The 2000 innocence claims GIP evaluated and investigated, including locating DNA evidence in 9 cases.
  • The 4 cases GIP won testing in.
  • How long it takes to evaluate, investigate and litigate a claim of innocence and why.  (Have you seen “Making a Murderer?”)
  • Why exonerating 1 person during a two year grant cycle is really a BIG deal.
  • What public policy changes are being proposed because of the work we did under this grant.