Exoneree Gerard Richardson Pushes for Reforms to New Jersey’s DNA Testing Law
Gerard Richardson will soon be celebrating the one-year anniversary of his exoneration. Since being released from prison, Richardson has devoted much time and effort to advocating for reforms designed to address wrongful convictions, including a bill aimed at improving New Jersey’s post-conviction DNA testing law, which is moving through the state legislature, the Newark Star-Ledger wrote in a recent profile of Richardson.
December 17 marks the one-year anniversary of Richardson’s exoneration. Richardson was wrongfully convicted and spent 19 years in prison for a murder he did not commit before the Innocence Project took on his case and DNA proved his innocence, leading to his exoneration. Richardson talks to the Star-Ledger about his wrongful conviction, the importance of his family life, and his advocacy work in support of innocence issues.
In addition to participating in numerous speaking engagements, Richardson has testified before New Jersey Senate and Assembly Committees in support of AB 1678/SB 1365, which would improve New Jersey’s post-conviction DNA testing law by removing the incarceration requirement for DNA testing and make it easier for DNA profiles generated by private labs to be entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System.
Today, the Assembly Appropriations Committee
AB 1678. The Senate Appropriations Committee already advanced the companion bill SB1365. The next step is a full vote in both the Senate and Assembly.
In Richardson’s case DNA collected from the victim, Monica Reyes, proved Richardson’s innocence, but because the test was done at a private lab that was not pre-approved by the state of New Jersey, the profile could not be entered into CODIS, which might have resulted in finding Reyes’ murderer. Additionally, it is important to remove the incarceration requirement for DNA testing because an innocent person may still face the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction after their incarceration, including parole, probation, and barriers to employment and housing, and shouldn’t be denied access to DNA testing to clear their names.
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