The Columbia Free Times reports that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was forced to veto a bill supporting access to DNA testing when some legislators tacked on a provision that he had opposed in a separate bill. Gov. Sanford supported the bill’s original language which would have established laws for evidence preservation and would allow prisoners to seek DNA testing to prove their innocence, a path to exoneration that the state does not currently provide.
“We applaud the first part of the bill because it provides those who may have been wrongly accused a chance to clear their names and we fully support the notion of due process in all cases,” Sanford wrote in a July 2 veto letter to Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who presides over the state Senate. “If this were the only provision of [the bill], we would have signed this legislation into law.”
But a tacked-on provision would allow police to take DNA swabs from anyone arrested of a serious crime, even before they were convicted, which has raised concerns about civil liberties. Palmetto Innocence Project president Joe McCulloch told the Free Times that the amendment is what sank the legislation.
That legislation seemed to be on the fast track to passing but was torpedoed at the 11th hour by political maneuvering, McCulloch says.
At the end of the legislative session, lawmakers lifted language from a different and controversial DNA bill, which the governor had vetoed, and added it to the original legislation.
The tacked-on language, added on the last day of the legislative session, exploded any chance of the bill he supported passing, McCulloch says.