DOJ grants will support research to improve forensic science practices used in sexual assault and domestic violence cases
Sep 14 2016
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond and George Mason University (GMU) in Fairfax will receive a total of $1,125,897 in federal funds through two grants from the Department of Justice National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to support research that will improve the forensic science testing and equipment used in domestic violence and sexual assault cases. VCU will receive $676,460 and GMU will receive $449,437 in funding to conduct studies and trials that seek to improve forensic science gathering methods.
“Law enforcement must have at their disposal the most up-to-date technology available to assist victims of violence,” said Sen. Warner. “These funds will help us modernize our criminal justice system by giving prosecutors improved tools to bring criminals to justice, provide closure to their victims, and exonerate those wrongfully convicted.”
Sen. Warner has promoted advances in DNA testing since his time as Governor of Virginia, becoming the first Governor to order posthumous DNA testing in a capital case. The post-conviction DNA testing program spearheaded by Senator Warner as Governor has exonerated eleven individuals and enabled additional testing in hundreds of cases, which have resulted in the match of 10,000 cold case hits since Warner helped modernize the system. Notably, Thomas Haynesworth was exonerated in 2011 after spending 27 years in prison following a wrongful rape and robbery conviction. He is also a cosponsor of the bipartisan Justice For All Reauthorization Act (S. 2577) that would provide critical updates and improvements to federal programs at the Department of Justice focused on forensic science and the use of DNA evidence in our criminal justice system. That bill passed the Senate June 16, 2016 and currently awaits action by the House of Representatives.