EXONERATING THE INNOCENT

March 20, 2014
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Sen. Ted Lieu seeks to make it easier for wrongfully convicted prisoners to obtain DNA testing

   SACRAMENTO – Wrongfully convicted prisoners would have improved access to scientific testing of evidence under a plan announced today by Sen. Ted Lieu and backed by the rights group Innocence Project.
   Lieu, D-Redondo Beach, cited research showing that recent improvements in technology related to DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, has led directly to the exonerations of hundreds of innocent people, adding that Senate Bill 980 would protect those for whom justice has fallen short.
   “One of the greatest injustices a government can commit is wrongfully convicting and imprisoning innocent people while the true perpetrator remains free to prey on all of us,” said Lieu, a former Air Force JAG prosecutor who remains a lieutenant colonel in the active military reserves.
   Specifically, there have been 311 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States since 1989. Exonerations through post-conviction DNA testing have been won in 36 states. Since the year 2000, there have been 244 post-conviction DNA exonerations. DNA is a molecule that encodes the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and many viruses.
   “These DNA-exoneration cases have provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events, but arise from systemic defects that can be precisely identified and addressed,” Lieu said.
   To read specifically what SB 980 would do, click HERE. Read Sen. Lieu's Fact Sheet on SB 980 HERE. Read and listen to Orr's story HERE. PHOTO CAPTION: Sen. Lieu, left, is interviewed in his Capitol office by state government reporter Katie Orr of Capitiol Public Radio. (Photo by Ray Sotero).