Friday Roundup: Second Chances and Needed Reforms


Yesterday, the

Idaho Senate approved legislation to eliminate the one-year time limit for prisoners to request DNA testing after conviction

and to make testing available to prisoners who made incriminating statements, delivered outright confessions or pled guilty.  The House passed the reform last month and now legislation awaits approval from the governor.

Nature Magazine, an international weekly journal of science ran

an op-ed this week by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck

, urging Congress to create “an office to study, standardize and certify those who apply science to crime as well as the techniques they use.” The need for an office like this comes as a response to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report last year stating that a lot of forensic disciples are not presently rooted in science.

The Connecticut Innocence Project continues to look into Erik Rasmussen’s murder conviction

from 1988 when he was found guilty of murdering his wife in their home.  Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane said he and other prosecutors were not shocked by the Innocence Project’s request for DNA testing on viable evidence now that the State has a federal grant that provides for it.  Because the grant allows for so many cases to be given a second look, Kane said he is working together with the Innocence Project and the State Police Forensic Lab on determining if re-examined evidence would change the conviction of Rasmussen and others.

Also in Connecticut, 35 year-old Patrick Corbin, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence for raping a 6-year-old girl in 1995,

requested that evidence from his trial be accepted for DNA testing

.  Prosecutor James Clark told the judge both the defense and prosecution were asking that evidence collected from the child and her clothing be sent to the state lab for DNA testing. The judge said OK.

A report was filed last week in the D.C. Superior Court

finding that dating back to the mid-1970s, there are more than a hundred cases that need to be reviewed because of potentially falsified tests conducted by FBI analysts. The report comes following an internal investigation by prosecutors just after the exoneration of Donald Gates, who was wrongfully convicted for 28 years for the rape and murder of a Georgetown University student.

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