Bill would reauthorize Kirk Bloodsworth DNA Testing Program, Coverdell Forensic Science Program and enhance access to post-conviction DNA testing
(Washington, DC — June 16, 2016) Today, the United States Senate passed the Justice for All Reauthorization Act, cosponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). This bill would reauthorize critical criminal justice provisions that would improve public safety by expanding access to post-conviction DNA testing which helps to exonerate the innocent and identify the real perpetrators of crime.
“The Innocence Project applauds the Senate for passing the Justice For All Reauthorization Act, and thanks Senators Cornyn and Leahy for their leadership on this critical legislation,” stated Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. “This bill would improve fairness and public safety by reauthorizing important, evidence-based programs that have led to many exonerations, including those that have identified real perpetrators of crime. I urge members of the House to follow suit by swiftly passing this important legislation.”
“The Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program has helped lead to 28 exonerations.” – R. Brown
Among its components, the legislation would reauthorize the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program, which has helped lead to the exoneration of 28 wrongfully convicted persons; enhance access to post-conviction DNA testing in the federal system; and reauthorize the Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Program, which supports capacity of crime labs to process forensic evidence while helping to ensure crime lab accountability.
“The Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program has helped lead to 28 exonerations, revealing at least 10 real perpetrators in those cases, some of whom unfortunately went on to commit other serious, violent crimes,” said Rebecca Brown, Policy Director for the Innocence Project. “The evidence-based programs in the Justice For All Reauthorization Act work to prevent and reveal wrongful convictions, help provide true justice to victims, and ensure greater accountability and fairness in the criminal justice system. The House should take the lead of the Senate and pass this vital bill.”
The National Registry of Exonerations currently lists over 1,800 exonerations since 1989, 342 of which were based primarily on DNA. In approximately half of the DNA cases, the true perpetrator went on to commit additional serious crimes before being identified.