Exonerations Spark Reforms in Ohio


After the recent exonerations of

Robert McClendon


Joseph Fears

in Ohio, state lawmakers – both Democrats and Republicans – are seeking to pass a package of reforms that would help free innocent prisoners and prevent future wrongful convictions. A bill pending before the Ohio legislature would grant wider access to post-conviction DNA testing and would require changes to lineup procedures and the electronic recording of some interrogations.

But some police and prosecutorial organizations are resisting the changes, saying they would be burdensome and costly for police departments to implement and would prevent police from doing their jobs.

State Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, said even with compromises this bill would be a step in the right direction and would help prevent wrongful convictions.

"It will be progress that will save the system money," he said, noting that it will mean fewer arguments and appeals over the legitimacy of confessions.

Seitz stressed that he wants to work out issues and move the bill, noting two recent cases of innocence and "countless other cases in which people hoped to get exonerated only to find that the dog ate my homework and the (DNA) evidence was gone.

"This issue is too important. We've got real problems with real-life people. All I would say to anybody who doesn't like this bill is: What if it was you in jail for 18 years for a crime you didn't commit?"

Read the full story here

. (Columbus Dispatch, 03/26/09)

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