Thursday, August 7, 2008

DNA Evidence Not Saved in 25 States

The ability to clear wrongly-convicted individuals is made more difficult because 25 states are not required to keep DNA evidence according to an August 5, 2008 story in USA Today.
The possibility of solving crimes committed years ago is hampered by lack of DNA samples as well. The biggest problems surrounding this issue are the guidelines and length of time for saving DNA material and the requirements and cost for storage.

What states are doing:
• South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed a proposal last month that, in part, would have mandated preservation of biological evidence. He says he supports giving the "wrongly accused a chance to clear their names" but could not endorse a provision requiring all suspects charged with felonies — but not yet convicted — to provide genetic profiles.

• A similar proposal in New York, one of the largest states that do not require DNA preservation, died in the State Assembly in June.

• Colorado prosecutors and defense lawyers are grappling to implement a broad law that requires law enforcement agencies to keep DNA evidence in murder, sexual assault and other serious cases for the lifetime of convicted defendants. It also calls for keeping DNA evidence in less serious crimes.

• Arizona lawmakers approved legislation, which takes effect Dec. 31, to maintain biological evidence in murder and sexual assault cases for as long as the offender remains in prison.

Larry Pozner, former head of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, says states have shown a "shocking" disinterest in keeping DNA: "Innocent inmates are going to die in prison."Evidence preservation has been the key to freeing more than 200 wrongfully convicted prisoners, says the Innocence Project, a group that works to free the innocent based on DNA testing.

1 comment:

Rural Writer said...

This is unbelievable!