BURLINGTON (AP) - U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy has been honored by the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project for his work on behalf of the wrongfully convicted.

The group investigates innocence claims, some of which are based on DNA evidence, and provides free legal assistance in the region.

Leahy's Innocence Protection Act, passed in 2004, includes the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Grant Program, which has helped exonerate at least 15 innocent people.

Bloodsworth, the first death-row inmate exonerated through DNA evidence, presented the "Champion of Justice" award in Washington, according to published reports.