News 01.22.15

Montana DNA Testing Law Must Be Fixed

The Montana

Billings Gazette

ran an op-ed Thursday by Keegan Flaherty, executive director of the Montana Innocence Project and former state senator Larry Jent, urging lawmakers to revise the state’s DNA testing law.

 

The law was created in 2003 and was intended to create an avenue for the innocent to request testing of DNA evidence in their cases. Under the current law, however, a person seeking DNA testing must first prove their innocence before a court will grant it. In most cases, this is nearly impossible to do without the DNA test results. State courts have not approved a single request for testing since the law was created.

Representative Margie MacDonald of Billings is sponsoring legislation to make revisions to the law to create a more reasonable standard for defendants in the state to get evidence tested.

The revisions would also allow judges to order a DNA profile to be entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), increasing the likelihood of identifying the real criminal in a wrongful conviction case. 

The law would also be revised so that the defendant does not have to be incarcerated in order to receive testing. Currently 37 other states have similar laws.

Read the full op-ed 

here

.

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