New Orleans DA Gets $2.3M in Federal Grants to Increase DNA Testing, Pursue Cold Business | Law courts

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The Department of Justice awarded the Orléans Parish District Attorney’s Office more than $2.3 million in federal grants that will allow the office to increase DNA testing capabilities, support reintegration programs and prosecute cold cases.

District Attorney Jason Williams was joined by U.S. Representative Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, members of the New Orleans Innocence Project and others to announce the four grants at a press conference Monday.

The grants have restrictions on how funds can be spent, but each revolves around efforts to increase safety and justice, from overseeing the safe re-entry of criminals to ensuring that the right person is behind bars in expanding DNA testing after sentencing.

For example, a portion of the funds will allow the district attorney’s office, in partnership with the rehabilitation nonprofit First 72+ and the Louisiana Parole Project, to create a new task force aimed at helping people coming out of prison following the work done by his civil rights division, Williams said.

The funds will also help the office pursue racially motivated cold cases that occurred before 1980.

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At Monday’s press conference, Williams was quick to say the grants couldn’t replace the “significant and necessary” money he’s requested from the city to bolster the office’s staff and pay for its expenses. as crime continues to rise in New Orleans.

In November, he asked the city for a budget of $9.3 million, $2.2 million more than it had allocated for the current budget year.

Referencing the recent spike in crime in the city, Williams said “we’ve been very clear that solving cold cases [is] critically important to our public safety today because when you don’t solve a cold case, you leave an attacker on the street to do it again.”

The grants “will do just that,” he said, “and help us expand our work in this area of ​​cold case resolution.”

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