Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dennis Fritz and DNA Testing

Dennis Fritz spent years in prison fighting for the DNA test that proved his innocence. Seven times he petitioned the courts for DNA testing and seven times he was turned down. The state of Oklahoma fought Dennis ever step of the way and refused to compare his DNA with evidence collected from the crime scene. When his lawyers finally obtained permission to test the DNA, the results not only exonerated Dennis but identified and helped convict the real killer.

So far, more than 200 people have been exonerated by DNA evidence, yet according to a New Report on Post-Conviction DNA Testing , (Link here) many states – including Oklahoma -- still have barriers that prevent DNA testing from being used effectively. Improving Access to Post-Conviction DNA Testing: A Policy Review provides an overview of problems with current post-conviction DNA testing laws, offers solutions to these problems, profiles cases of injustice, highlights states with good laws and policies for DNA testing, and includes a model policy.
This is the link to The Justice Project
here .

According to the policy review, Oklahoma is one of seven states without a statute for post-conviction DNA testing access. (The others are Alabama, Alaska, Massachusetts, Mississippi, South Carolina, and South Dakota.) Oklahoma passed a statute in 2000, but it expired in 2005. Other states with access statutes

TJP’s policy review includes six common sense recommendations for improving state post-conviction DNA testing to create a more accurate criminal justice system and restore public confidence in the system’s ability to correct its own errors.

Without DNA testing, Dennis Fritz would still be in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But it’s clear from this report states still have a long way to go to make sure that every wrongfully convicted person has a fair chance to prove their innocence through DNA testing.
All of TJP’s policy reviews are available on its website at
The Justice Project

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