A bill signed into law today by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland will enact sweeping criminal justice reforms to help free the innocent from prison, prevent wrongful convictions and apprehend the real perpetrators of crime.
(Pictured above, right to left: Sen. David Goodman, Gov. Ted Strickland and Rep. Carlton Weddington)
The Innocence Project and the Ohio Innocence Project have worked for several years to bring about these changes, and one Ohio lawmaker called the package “one of the most important pieces of criminal justice legislation in this state in a century.” Among other changes, the new law creates:
• A requirement for preservation of DNA evidence in all cases of serious crime, such as homicide and sexual assault
• Police incentives for the recording of all interrogations from beginning to end in cases of serious crime
• A requirement for police lineups and photo identification procedures to be conducted in double-blind fashion, meaning the officer who oversees the eyewitness procedure with the witness does not know who among the sample pool is the suspect
• An expansion of Ohio’s post-conviction DNA testing law to allow for DNA testing to be done during the parole phase of the justice cycle
Innocence Project Policy Advocate Rebecca Brown said the new law would set an example for other states:
“In the months and years ahead, policymakers around the country will look at what Ohio has done and understand how they, too, can create a more fair, accurate and reliable criminal justice system,” Brown said.