The Justice Project has developed a series of policy reviews on the leading causes of wrongful convictions that explain the problems and recommend common sense solutions Improving Access to Post-Conviction DNA Testing: A Policy ReviewThis policy review provides an overview of problems with current post-conviction DNA testing laws, offers solutions to these problems, profiles cases of injustice, highlights states with good laws and policies for DNA testing, and includes a model policy. TJP’s six recommendations for states will improve the effective use of post-conviction DNA testing to create a more accurate criminal justice system and restore public confidence in the system’s ability to correct its own errors.
- States should require the preservation of biological evidence throughout a defendant’s sentence and devise standards regarding custody of evidence.
- States should ensure that all inmates with a DNA-based innocence claim may petition for DNA testing at any time and without regard to plea, confession, self-implication, the nature of the crime, or previous unfavorable test results.
- States should require judges to grant post-conviction testing petitions when testing may produce new material evidence that raises a reasonable probability of the petitioner’s innocence or reduced culpability.
- States should ensure that petitioners have access to objective and reliable forensic analysis at independent and privately funded labs, subject to judicial approval.
- States should provide counsel and cover the cost of post-conviction DNA testing in cases where a petitioner is indigent.
- States should standardize post-testing procedures for cases that produce testing results favorable to a petitioner.