Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session.”
In Session Anchor
Let’s talk DNA. Believe it or not, if you are convicted of a crime, you have no right to the DNA evidence. No constitutional right, that is. That’s why Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck and the other folks at the Innocence Project are in Washington, D.C. today to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to find that such a right exists in our Constitution.
To be clear, most states do provide for access to DNA material; But in many states, the fight for the DNA material from a crime scene can go on for years, even decades. In Alaska, where today’s case originates, there is no right at all to test DNA on appeal from a conviction — none. That means that an innocent person, who might be able to prove his wrongful conviction, simply cannot.
It also means that victims and their families, who seek justice, may not get it because if the wrong man is in prison, of course, the real perpetrator is still out there – a result not even the most law-and-order prosecutor would want. Prosecutors, after all, are in pursuit of justice.
That is why a consortium of prosecutors have joined with the Innocence Project to file an amicus brief in the case supporting a Constitutional right to DNA. Those who oppose it cite the costs of collection, preservation and the testing of DNA. These are valid concerns but do not trump the Constitution, lest we lose the true meaning of criminal justice.
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