As the Pennsylvania Wrongful Conviction Commission prepares to release its report later this spring, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project is glad to see other states making the kind of progress we hope to see here. As reported by Jim Siegel of the Colombus Dispatch, Governor Ted Strickland signed into law last Monday a new set of procedures in Ohio for criminal investigations.
Included in Senate Bill 77 are requirements that DNA samples be taken from anyone arrested on a felony charge and that all biological evidence from any murder or sexual assualt case be retained for up to 30 years. Additionally, the law mandates that parolees and those on the sex-offender registry have access to post-conviction DNA testing. Finally, the law requires new blind suspect line-ups and includes incentives for investigators to record witness and suspect interrogations.
The new law, according to Siegel’s story, is being hailed as a model for the rest of the country, and indeed it marks another triumph in the nationwide fight for criminal defendants’ rights. Ohio now joins Texas (where wrongful conviction compensation laws are now some of the best in the country,) North Carolina (which established an independent innocence commission) and Florida (which is in the midst of establishing its own independent innocence commission); all are recent examples of the reform that we hope to see in Pennsylvania.