ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - The New Mexico Innocence and Justice Project has always said their goal is to prove the innocence or wrongly convicted individuals. Their quest to accomplish that may be in jeopardy because their project director said they are losing funding.
This is happening for a number of reasons. The first is that the group is primarily funded through a federal grant. Their current one is set to expire in May. The second reason for a halt in operation is because the group is also supported by the University of New Mexico Law School. A budget shortfall for New Mexico could cut funds that would go to the school. After that, the organization is solely reliant upon private donations.
According to the organization's website, it costs a minimum of $145,000 to operate per year.
The most notable work from the project came in 2017, now DNA research may turn around the murder conviction of Jacob Duran. Duran has been in prison for 30 years for the murder of an Albuquerque woman. It was ruled in court that results from a new DNA test proved he wasn't connected to evidence collected at the crime scene.
Gordon Rahn, Project Director for the group said the work they're currently doing on cases is just as important as the service they're providing for the future.
"These students are the future of New Mexico," said Rahn. "They're the ones who are going to be the prosecutors, defenders. They're the ones who are going to go out into New Mexico understanding how wrongful convictions happen so that they can stop it before it happens."
For information on how to make a contribution, you can visit the New Mexico Innocence and Justice website.