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28-Apr-2017

Improvements for proposed Pennsylvania DNA legislation

Pittsburgh, PA

The Pennsylvania State Judiciary Committee held hearings this month on Bill 461, proposed legislation to improve DNA testing and post-conviction relief. Cybergenetics works with Innocence Project groups around the country, providing better DNA analysis to assist the wrongfully convicted in proving their innocence.

Bill 461 can be improved by requiring crime laboratories to disclose DNA interpretation failure. Most labs just state why they were unable to interpret their data (e.g., "too complex," "too many people," "too little DNA"). They don't reveal that newer and better methods can interpret their complex data, using computer tools they don't have.

Disclosure alerts police, prosecutors and defenders to the fact that further data analysis can be done, beyond the crime lab. In the absence of such disclosure, criminal justice mistakenly believes that "inconclusive" is the end of the DNA road. When, in fact, it's often the start of a scientific journey outside the lab.

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