By Nick Moroni
Puerto Rico yesterday enacted its first law allowing defendants to access post-conviction DNA testing which could prove innocence. The new law, signed by Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, will allow post-conviction DNA testing in instances when there is new evidence, evidence that was never tested, or the results of previous DNA testing have been called into question, according to the
. Gov. Garcia Padilla said yesterday that the new law will make Puerto Rico’s justice system more fair and impartial.
The law was strongly
by Justicia Reivindicada (Puerto Rico Innocence Project) and the Innocence Project, whose policy director, Rebecca Brown, traveled to Puerto Rico earlier this year to call for the passage of this important law.
“The Innocence Project applauds Gov. Garcia Padilla for enacting this law and is extremely thankful to Justicia Reivindicada for its tireless and persistent advocacy in support of this important measure. Puerto Rico now joins all 50 states in the U.S. in granting statutory access to DNA testing which could prove innocence and enable law enforcement to identify the truly guilty. This is truly a momentous occasion,” said Brown.
A previous proposal to grant access to DNA testing passed Puerto Rico’s legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Garcia Padilla due to fiscal concerns. The recently enacted statute was amended to state that the cost of DNA testing would be borne by the defendant, although it should also be noted that the cost estimates associated with the previous proposal were reported to be vastly overstated. In the end, Puerto Rico’s newly enacted post-conviction DNA statute is fiscally responsible and will strengthen public safety.