NASHVILLE, TN – Today Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) and the Tennessee Innocence Project announced the Department of Justice awarded the organization with a $300,000 for its “Collaborative Justice in Tennessee” program.
The funds will go to further a collaboration between the Tennessee Innocence Project and the Davidson County Office of the District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit (CRU) to review instances of wrongfully convicted cases. Tennessee ranks 18th in the U.S. for prison population by state, and has completed only 25 exonerations, a fraction compared to other states with well-established innocence representation and CRUs.
“I am confident the Tennessee Innocence Project will use these funds to continue their work of collaborative justice in Tennessee,” Rep. Jim Cooper said. “The Department of Justice and the federal government see the importance of organizations like the Tennessee Innocence Project while we continue to reform our criminal justice system.”
“The Tennessee Innocence Project was honored to receive this significant grant from the Department of Justice. These funds will assist our organization by allowing us to focus on Davidson County cases that the Tennessee Innocence Project can investigate and present to the Conviction Review Unit of the Nashville District Attorney’s Office,” said Jessica Van Dyke, Executive Director/Lead Counsel of the Tennessee Innocence Project. “Everyone agrees that no innocent person should remain incarcerated for a crime they did not commit, yet we know it happens. These funds will help us take action to remedy those injustices and free the wrongfully convicted through collaborative justice.”