Spanish Translation

Federal Legislation

A landmark moment in the Innocence Movement occurred when the federal Justice For All Act of 2004 was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 30, 2004.

The Justice For All Act includes the Innocence Protection Act, legislation that, among other things, grants any federal inmate the right to petition a federal court for DNA testing to support a claim of innocence. It also encourages states - through the power of the purse - to adopt adequate measures to preserve evidence and make postconviction DNA testing available in inmates seeking to prove their innocence.

Other key provisions include helping states that have the death penalty to create effective systems for the appointment and performance of qualified counsel, together with better training and monitoring for both the defense and prosecution. It provides substantial funding to states for increased reliance on DNA testing in new criminal investigations, increases the amount of compensation available to wrongfully convicted federal prisoners, and expresses the sense of Congress that all wrongfully convicted persons should be reasonably compensated. Importantly, the law also requires states seeking funding under many of its provisions to certify the existence of governmental entities capable of conducting independent external investigations of state and local crime laboratories where there are serious allegations of misconduct or negligence.