Ten years ago, on July 20, 1998 — after serving almost 15 years for a rape he didn’t commit —
became the first South Carolinian to be exonerated by DNA. Sunday marked the tenth anniversary of his exoneration.
Although Mitchell was allowed access to the DNA tests that ultimately freed him, his request could have easily been denied. Even now, ten years after Mitchell’s exoneration, South Carolina is one of seven states with no law guaranteeing DNA access to inmates who believe they have been wrongfully convicted. Legislation that would have ensured access to DNA testing and evidence preservation recently passed South Carolina’s legislature, only to be vetoed by Governor Mark Sanford. The governor said he couldn’t support a last-minute amendment to the bill that would have allowed DNA samples to be taken from anyone arrested for a serious crime.