Thursday, 17 December 2009

Boston Bar Association: Provide Access to DNA Tests

Innocence Blog
Boston Bar Association: Provide Access to DNA Tests

Posted: December 16, 2009 6:10 pm

A report released today by the Boston Bar Association lays out a sweeping strategy for improving the accuracy of the state’s criminal justice system and calls for the enactment of a law providing access to DNA testing in cases where it can prove innocence.

Massachusetts is one of just three states without a DNA access law, and the Innocence Project today called on state lawmakers to work to pass such a measure in the months ahead.

“Over the last several years, nearly every state in the nation has passed a law granting prisoners access to DNA testing that can prove innocence or confirm guilt. In just the last two years alone, Mississippi and South Carolina passed laws granting access to post-conviction DNA testing, but Massachusetts still hasn’t,” Innocence Project Policy Director Stephen Saloom said today. “This report makes a serious, well-reasoned, broadly supported case for finally passing legislation in Massachusetts to grant DNA testing to prisoners, and we hope the State Legislature and the Governor act on it.”

The Bar Association report was created by a task force chaired by two former prosecutors and including representatives of the law enforcement, defense and forensic communities.

Task force co-chairman David E. Meier told the Boston Globe that a broad group of experts was necessary to create the report because fixing the criminal justice system is in everyone’s interest.

“The wrongful conviction of an innocent defendant strikes at the foundation of the criminal justice system,’’ (Meier) said in an interview. “It impacts everyone: the defendant, the victim and the victim’s family, the integrity of the system, and, perhaps most importantly, the public’s confidence in our system of justice.’’

Boston Bar Association press release.

Download the full report. (PDF)

The two other states that lack post-conviction DNA access are Alaska and Oklahoma, but some states offer extremely limited access to testing and need improvements. Visit our interactive map to learn about the details in your state.

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