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New DNA Law Needed in MA to Prevent Wrongful Imprisonments

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We’ve all heard the heart-breaking stories of innocent people who spent decades in prison but were later exonerated through DNA testing, and these stories are becoming more and more familiar as greater numbers of innocent individuals gain their freedom. However, such stories are not possible in Massachusetts because the Commonwealth is one of only two states (Oklahoma is the other) that does not require that DNA evidence be preserved and does not allow post-conviction access to DNA evidence.

This is not just a legal concern but a moral issue as well. Since the first DNA exoneration of a convicted prisoner took place in 1989, there have been 271 post-conviction exonerations in the United States due to results from DNA tests including 17 death row inmates. Families, particularly African American and Latino families, are being torn apart, often for decades, when a simple test could prove a person's innocence. It is important to note that 2/3 of those who have been exonerated in the past by DNA evidence have been racial minorities.

Wrongful convictions destroy lives and also undermine the public's confidence in our judicial system. The only one who benefits from a wrongful conviction is the real perpetrator who remains out on our streets.



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