Kentucky Lawmaker Hoping to Expand Post-Conviction DNA Testing

Rep. Johnnie Bell (D-Glasgow) is again proposing his bill to expand post-conviction DNA testing hoping that the legislation will finally make it through the legislative process in the 2013 session. Bell has proposed similar bills three times, one of which made it past the House of Representatives before dying in the Senate.

Bell’s bill expands post-conviction DNA testing to any defendant currently incarcerated or on parole provided they can show a reasonable probability that the DNA tests would exonerate them. Currently, only those on death row are afforded access to testing. The new legislation would expand the list of eligible defendants to anyone convicted of a capital offense or violent felony.

Federal funds would be available to those who qualify for aid from the Department of Public Advocacy but those who do not can still apply for testing at their own expense. The Department of Public Advocacy has listed Bell’s legislation as one of its priorities for the new Congress and will review the testing applications should Congress enact the bill.

Bell spoke to The Daily News about the legislation saying, “I really don’t know if this time will be different. Sometimes you just have to be persistent.”

Read more here.

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