Illinois Innocence Project to focus on Latino outreach

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A University of Illinois Springfield project that investigates wrongful convictions has received a $753,000 federal grant to expand its DNA testing and to increase its outreach to Latino inmates. The Illinois Innocence Project says the U.S. Justice Department grant will enable its lawyers to broaden the use of post-conviction DNA testing of evidence in old cases. The grant is named for Kirk Bloodsworth, a former U.S. Marine and death row inmate who was exonerated by DNA evidence in 1993. Executive director John Hanlon says the project’s expanded outreach to Spanish-speaking inmates is needed “due to unique barriers involving language, citizenship and status.” The Illinois Innocence Project was founded in 2001 and has assisted in the release of eight people who were wrongfully convicted, including two men freed in 2015.