Ohio Puts New DNA Law on the Books

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By Kamika Dunlap on April 12, 2010 12:50 PM

Ohio has put a new DNA law on the books aimed at protecting the innocent from wrongful convictions and putting the real criminals behind bars.

Gov. Ted Strickland signed Senate Bill 77 into law, setting new statewide standards requiring DNA samples from to be taken from anyone arrested for a felony, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Experts are calling Ohio's new DNA law a model for improving the criminal justice system. Several inmates have been freed as the state has implemented new changes to its innocence reforms.

As previously discussed, James Bain spent more time in prison than any of the 245 inmates previously exonerated by DNA evidence nationwide. But after 35 years and his fifth request to use DNA evidence he was set free a Florida prison.

Lawyers from the Florida Innocence Project helped Bain win freedom. A national and public policy organization, the project works to exonerate prisoners with wrongful conviction cases through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent further injustice.

The Ohio Innocence Project worked on getting the state's new DNA law passed and hopes it will be a role model to other states.

Here are a few other highlights of the new law:

  • Requires law enforcement agencies to retain biological evidence for up to 30 years in murder and sexual assault cases. The limit is five years when a defendant pleads guilty.
  •  Opens DNA testing to parolees and those on the sex offender registry.
  •  Mandates blind suspect lineups, in which the officer presiding either does not know the identity of the true suspect or uses a photo lineup technique in which only the witness can see pictures placed in folders.
  • Gives an incentive for law enforcement officials to record interrogations.

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