Ohio Legislators Poised to Pass Key Criminal Justice Reforms


A package of reforms to prevent and address wrongful convictions is moving toward passage in Ohio. Senate Bill 77, which would make it easier to use DNA evidence to exonerate the wrongly convicted and would also help prevent wrongful convictions from happening in the first place, is expected to be voted on next week in the House.  It has already passed in the Senate, and the governor has said he will sign it. House Speaker Armond Budish, D-Beachwood, told the Columbus Dispatch that he will call the bill for a vote.

“We’ve been working actively on this,” said House Speaker Armond Budish, D-Beachwood, responding to questions about the delay in a vote. “It’s a bill I believe is an important bill. We are now in a position to move it.”

Budish said the GOP leaders did not tell him how many votes they would provide for the DNA bill until after this week’s House calendar was set.

“The feeling we had been given was that they would be supportive, but you’ve got to have a head count,” he said. “You can’t put something on the floor and have it fail by a vote. That would be tragic.”

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The bill would require law-enforcement agencies to retain evidence in certain cases, make DNA testing available to parolees trying to prove their innocence and require blind administration of lineups, which can reduce misidentifications that lead to wrongful convictions. It also provides incentives for police departments to videotape interrogations, which can help prevent false confessions.

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