Print View  
Urgent Action: Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act
11/20/2003 10:15 AM

On November 5, 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Innocence Protection Act, a critical piece of legislation for both defendants and victims of crime in that it could help to reduce the risk that the innocent are convicted while the guilty remain at large. Specifically, the Innocence Protection act establishes the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program directed at exonerating innocent defendants. Bloodsworth's was the first capital conviction to be overturned as a result of DNA testing in the United States. The bill would authorize $5 million a year for five years to help states defray the costs of such testing. The Innocence Protection Act is included in a larger bill called the Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act of 2003 (House Resolution 3214) which currently awaits action in the Senate.

The Innocence Protection Act originally was introduced in 2000, with strong bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate. The overall bill is designed to achieve several goals:

  • to eliminate the substantial backlog of DNA samples collected from crime scenes and convicted offenders,
  • to improve and expand the DNA testing capacity of Federal, State, and local crime laboratories,
  • to increase research and development of new DNA testing technologies,
  • to develop new training programs regarding the collection and use of DNA evidence,
  • to provide post-conviction testing of DNA evidence to exonerate the innocent,
  • to improve the performance of counsel in State capital cases, and for other purposes.
More information about the Innocence Protection Act and strategies for individual action are available from The Justice Project.