A key deadline passed in Alabama on Friday – it was the last day for death row prisoners convicted before July 30, 2009, to file for DNA testing.
When passed a year ago, Alabama’s short-deadline, death-row-only law was one of the most restrictive in the country. In advance of the Friday deadline, legal groups in Alabama filed DNA requests for more than two dozen prisoners on death row.
Aimee Maxwell, Executive Director of the Georgia Innocence Project, which works on cases from Georgia and Alabama, told the Tuscaloosa News that Alabama’s law should be improved by extending the deadline and including people convicted in non-capital cases. With only one year to choose cases and file motions, attorneys and volunteers for the Georgia Innocence Project didn’t always have time to make sure evidence in all of the cases still existed. Assuming they would eventually withdraw some appeals for testing, project lawyers said they wanted to file for as many as they could and meet the deadline.
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. Only Alabama and Kentucky have DNA access laws that allow only prisoners on death row to apply for testing. Now that Alabama’s deadline has passed, only prisoners convicted in the last year will be allowed to appeal. Forty-eight states have some form of DNA testing – only Massachusetts and Oklahoma lack such laws.
Check on the details of the law in your state