Lawmakers in Colorado and South Carolina yesterday heard testimony from the Innocence Project on bills to address and prevent wrongful convictions. In Colorado, Innocence Project Policy Analyst Rebecca Brown told legislators that the state’s proposed evidence preservation bill doesn’t go far enough to protect the innocent.
And Tim Masters, who was recently freed after serving 10 years for murder when evidence of his innocence surfaced, said that these laws affect people like him who are still behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit.
"If this bill is to serve as a standard for evidence-preservation practices, it will devastate innocence claims," testified Rebecca Brown, policy analyst for the Innocence Project, which has helped free 214 wrongfully convicted prisoners. "We're incredibly concerned that there will be no protections for the innocent."
…Tim Masters, recently freed by DNA testing, described how Larimer County prosecutors in his case opposed preservation of the evidence early in his appeal proceedings.
"I'd still be locked up" if the evidence had been tossed, Masters said, holding a copy of the district attorney's court motion citing current state law providing no duty to preserve the DNA.
Read the full story here.
(Denver Post, 03/20/08)
In South Carolina, Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck told lawmakers yesterday that access to DNA testing is a vital right for prisoners. The bill, which would make South Carolina the 44th state to offer DNA access to prisoners, received preliminary approval and will head to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Read more here.
Today in Connecticut, Innocence Project Policy Director Stephen Saloom will testify on a bill to reform eyewitness identification procedures.