News 11.27.07

Wyoming legislature considers DNA access law

There’s one thing all 208 exonerees have in common – at some point they were able to secure DNA testing in their cases. Sometimes prosecutors agree to testing immediately upon request, but other times it takes a long court battle for an innocent defendant to obtain testing. Today 42 states have some form of law allowing inmates to apply for DNA testing if it could prove innocence. Eight states still have no such law, meaning inmates in those states are often unable to prove their innocence, even when key biological evidence is sitting untested in a storage facility.

Wyoming is one of those eight states without an access law, but lawmakers there say it’s time for a change. A joint legislative committee yesterday heard testimony on the issue from a cross-section of criminal justice experts, and many are hoping to see a bill passed during the 2008 session.

Rep. Edward Buchanan, R-Torrington, who raise the issue with the committee last year, warned against rushing the bill to the full Legislature if it is not “rock solid.”

But other committee members, including Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, said the committee should push the bill forward.

“For those people who may be sitting in jail or prison who are in fact not guilty, for us to sit there and say, 'We want to wait until it's absolutely perfect,' that's unacceptable in my mind," Burns said.


Read the full story here

. (Jackson Hole Star-Tribune, 11/27/07)

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