An Idaho program that uses DNA testing to help free wrongfully-convicted prisoners suffered a major setback recently when it had the majority of its funding cut.
The federal Department of Justice announced that the Idaho Innocence Project wouldn’t receive a $220,000 grant. Two previous DOJ grants have paid for most of the project’s operating costs over the last five years, says the project's director Greg Hampikian.
He says trying to line up funding for the Innocence Project, and other research projects, can be frustrating.
"It’s a very trying process,” he says. “I write at least a dozen of these proposals a year. And get maybe one or two funded. And every year we go through this with every project.”
Hampikian says there other avenues, such as state money, for funding programs like the Idaho Innocence Project. He’s pursuing some of those now.
In the meantime, the loss of funding has Hampikian shrinking the project, located at Boise State University. Much of the work going forward will be done by volunteers.
“It certainly curtails [the project] as we’ve known it,” he says. “We’ll still work the cases we’ve committed to, and I’m still working on those. It does change us back to what we were when we were a student organization.”
Work with the Innocent Project has made Hampikian one of the university’s highest profile professors. He's a regular commentator on DNA testing on news outlets such as NPR and CNN. His work on behalf of Washington native Amanda Knox helped overturn her murder conviction in Italy.
Hampikian says he 's heard from other institutions about going to work for them in the wake of the DOJ funding cut, but adds that he plans to continue his work in Boise.
Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio