Aspires

Evidence Label

Storing, tracking and transferring evidence is integral to the criminal justice process. The New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation is one of six partner agencies that collectively form ASPIRES: a group of criminal justice stakeholders working together to create a model evidence system for Orleans Parish that is reliable, accountable and in line with industry standards.  

The New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation is one of six partner agencies that collectively form ASPIRES: a group of criminal justice stakeholders working together to create an model evidence system for Orleans Parish that is reliable, accountable and in line with industry standards.  

Like Hurricane Katrina did to thousands of other structures in New Orleans, it wreaked havoc on the Orleans Parish criminal justice system’s evidence facilities and operations.  The NOPD’s Central Evidence and Property room, the Clerk of Court’s evidence storage facilities and the Crime Lab where evidence was processed were all submerged for days in Katrina’s flood waters.  Following the receding of the flood waters, extensive efforts to remediate all flooded evidence were conducted; however, both agencies were left without facilities and forced to use temporary structures- structures not adequate for a long-term evidence operation and not adequate to service the volume of evidence that flows through our system. Recognizing the importance of evidence operations to the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice system, the ASPIRES group was formed. 

ASPIRES is a strategic working group initially funded by Baptist Community Ministries, and composed of representatives from the New Orleans Police Department, District Attorney’s Office, Criminal District Court, private defense, NOPJF and Innocence Project New Orleans.  The goal of ASPIRES is to create a system of evidence preservation, storage and cataloguing that is in line with best practices; including a well trained staff, state of the art facilities, and the most current technology.

Since its formation in March of 2007, the ASPIRES working group has demonstrated unprecedented interagency cooperation and collaboration around a clearly defined mission- to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of evidence handling throughout the criminal justice system and ensure best-practice processes that uphold the highest industry standards.

ASPIRES’ active, ongoing engagement by all stakeholders has led to many key accomplishments including:

  • Training and certification of evidence technicians by the International Association for the Preservation of Evidence
  • An on-site assessment of evidence facilities and procedures and production of a comprehensive set of recommendations by the nationally renowned evidence specialists at Evidence Control Systems.
  • Business process reengineering to improve evidence processes throughout the criminal justice system
  • Procurement of integrated technology to improve the tracking and management of evidence as it move through the system

In 2009, the ASPIRES group applied for and received a competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to completely re-inventory and assess evidence stored at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court for the purpose of identifying DNA evidence that could exonerate or confirm guilt individuals convicted in Orleans Parish.  To-date, over thirteen thousand containers of evidence have been barcoded and logged into the new interagency evidence tracking system.  Click here to read a 2011 Times Picayune story on the project.

ASPIRES continues to move forward toward its vision and is currently engaged in short term and long term objectives to improve evidence processes and resources throughout the system. In the coming year, the project will expand focus to assist in identifying evidence for potential DNA testing in other jurisdictions in Louisiana.  The ASPIRES group will also serve as advocates for proper space, design and procedures in the new integrated criminal evidence facility under development by the City of New Orleans.