After a preliminary vote of support from the Judiciary Committee, a bill that would implement critical criminal justice reforms in Vermont will likely move to the full Senate on Friday. The bill would provide a system for convicted people to seek DNA testing that can prove their innocence. It also provides for evidence preservation and the compensation of exonerated people.
"I think this is one of the most important bills which will come out of the Judiciary Committee, or any committee, in this building this year," said Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington. Having said that "I hope it is never used," Sears added.
One of the most compelling pieces of testimony the committee heard was from Dennis Maher, who spent 19 years in prison after being convicted of rape and other charges from an attack in Lowell, Mass. Maher continued proclaiming his innocence throughout his prison sentence, until his conviction was overturned in 2003.
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. (Rutland Herald, 02/22/07)
and Innocence Project Policy Director Stephen Saloom testified in favor of the bill at hearings earlier this month. If this measure becomes law in Vermont, it will become the 42nd state with a DNA access provision and the 22nd with a compensation law.
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