Monday, October 25, 2004

DNA Evidence of Bipartisanship

Last week the U.S. Congress passed the Justice for All Act, which includes provisions of the Innocence Protection Act. As of this posting, the legislation has not yet been signed by President Bush. Attached is an analysis of the legislation prepared by the Justice Project.

US: Congress deserves credit for overriding objections from the Justice Department and approving a pioneer program to provide federal suspects better defense lawyers and fairer access to DNA evidence in seeking post-conviction exonerations.

This significant step forward in criminal justice, which President Bush is expected to sign into law, also prods the states to deal with growing crime-lab scandals by setting up panels to look into allegations of misconduct and the outright falsification of evidence.

By adding provisions to advance the rights of crime victims, Congress steered this valuable bipartisan package to passage after five years of frustration.

Any television viewer is used to ingenious denouements routinely wrought by DNA evidence on fictionalized crime shows. Reality comes nowhere close to the rose-colored forensics of those shows. But the new programes establishes a federal prisoner's access to DNA evidence for five years after conviction, and possibly longer if a court finds injustice.

It also provides $350 million to improve the abysmal state of defense representation that so often undermines justice in death penalty cases. And the government will spend $755 million to deal with the current backlog of 350,000 untested DNA samples in rape cases - a step sought by the White House that could uncover suspects in as many as 40 percent of the cases, by some estimates.

The value of DNA evidence has been shown in such pro bono efforts as the 151 exonerations won by the Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School. In freeing those innocent prisoners, DNA searches of existing records uncovered suspects with positive matches in one-third of the cases, Cardozo lawyers say. The new law's passage, a rare achievement in the Capitol's gridlock, was the work of Senators Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, and Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and Representatives James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Wisconsin Republican, and Bill Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat.

The state of criminal justice is light-years from ideal. Most states are setting up DNA research banks, but much remains to be done to ensure that they get up to speed on this science and other crime-lab basics for gathering and protecting evidence. The new law is evidence for hope.


Section-By-Section Analysis


The Justice For All Act of 2004 enhances protections for victims of Federal crimes, increases Federal resources available to State and local governments to combat crimes with DNA technology, and provides safeguards to prevent wrongful convictions and executions.

Title I of the bill is the Scott Campbell, Stephanie Roper, Wendy Preston, Louarna Gillis, and Nila Lynn Crime Victims' Rights Act. The provisions of this title establish enhanced and enforceable rights for crime victims in the Federal criminal justice system, and authorize grants to help States implement and enforce their own victims' rights laws.

Titles II and III of the bill establish the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, which authorize $755 million over five years to address the DNA backlog crisis in the nation's crime labs, and also authorize more than $500 million in new grant programs to reduce other forensic science backlogs, train criminal justice and medical personnel in the use of DNA evidence, and promote the use of DNA technology to identify missing persons.

Title IV of the bill, the Innocence Protection Act, provides access to post-conviction DNA testing in Federal cases, helps States improve the quality of legal representation in capital cases, and increases compensation in Federal cases of wrongful conviction. It also establishes the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program, which authorizes $25 million over five years to defray the costs of post-conviction DNA testing.


Sec. 101. Short Title. This title may be cited as the "Scott Campbell, Stephanie Roper, Wendy Preston, Louarna Gillis, and Nila Lynn Crime Victims' Rights Act."

Sec. 102. Crime Victims' Rights. Establishes enhanced rights for victims of Federal crimes, including the right to be reasonably protected from the accused; the right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of certain proceedings and events; the right not to be excluded from certain proceedings; the right to be reasonably heard at certain proceedings and to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case; the right to full and timely restitution; the right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay; and the right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy. Government employees shall make best efforts to ensure that victims are notified of and accorded these rights. A victim or the lawful representative of a victim may assert these rights in district court and, if relief is denied, may petition the court of appeals for a writ of mandamus, which the court of appeals must take up and decide within 72 hours. A failure to afford a right shall not provide grounds for a new trial, and may only be used to re-open and plea or sentence in limited circumstances.

Sec. 103. Increased Resources for Enforcement of Crime Victims' Rights. Authorizes grants to assist State and local authorities in implementing and enforcing crime victims' rights laws, including grants to develop and implement state-of-the-art systems for notifying crime victims of important dates and developments relating to the criminal proceedings at issue in a timely and efficient manner.

Sec. 104. Reports. Requires annual reports on the implementation of this title.

TITLE II_DEBBIE SMITH ACT OF 2004 Sec. 201. Short Title. This title may be cited as the "Debbie Smith Act of 2004."

Sec. 202. Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program. Reauthorizes and expands the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 (42 U.S.C. 14135), increasing the authorized funding levels for the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination program to $151 million annually for the next five years, as proposed in the President's DNA initiative.

Subsection (a) names the Backlog Elimination Act grant program in honor of Debbie Smith, a rape survivor and leader in promoting the use of the DNA technology to solve crimes. In addition, subsection (a) amends the eligibility provisions to add "units of local government" as potential grantees, so that Federal resources can meet local needs more quickly.

Subsection (b) provides a single annual authorization for the program, and modifies existing program objectives by: (1) adding the collection of DNA samples from convicted offenders as a specific program purpose; (2) ensuring that DNA testing and analysis of samples from crime scenes are carried out in a timely manner.

Subsection (b) further provides for the disbursement of grant funds by the Attorney General in conformity with a formula that maximizes the effective use of DNA technology to solve crimes and protect public safety, and addresses areas where significant backlogs exist. A minimum grant amount of 0.50 percent is to be awarded to each State, and a specified percentage of remaining funds will be awarded to conduct DNA analyses of samples from casework.

Conversion of the Backlog Elimination Act grant program into a formula grant program will ensure that funds will be fairly distributed among all eligible jurisdictions. It is expected that the factors given weight in the formula will include the magnitude and nature of the DNA backlogs and current DNA work demands in the jurisdictions that seekfunding; deficits in public laboratory capacity for the timely and efficient analysis of DNA samples in these jurisdictions, and cost requirements for remedying these deficits; and the ability of these jurisdictions to use the funds to increase DNA analysis and public laboratory capacity for such analysis. It is further expected that the formula will target funding on the use of DNA analysis to solve the most serious violent crimes, including rapes and murders, whose solution through DNA testing promises the greatest return in promoting public safety.

Subsection (b) also reserves no more than 1 percent of the grant amounts to assist State and local crime labs to become accredited, and to undergo regular external audits, in order to ensure that such labs fully comply with Federal quality assurance standards. If an external audit of a crime lab funded by this Act identifies measures to remedy deficiencies with respect to the lab's compliance with FBI standards, such remediation must be implemented as soon as practicable.

Finally, subsection (b) provides that DNA backlog grants may be used for non-DNA forensic science backlogs if the State has no significant DNA backlog or lab improvement needs relating to DNA processing.

Sec. 203. Expansion of Combined DNA Index System. CODIS - - the national database of DNA identification information - - is currently limited to analyses of DNA samples from convicted offenders, crime scenes, unidentified human remains, and missing persons. This section expands CODIS to allow the inclusion of virtually any DNA information that a State chooses to collect, with two exceptions: DNA profiles of arrestees who have not been charged in an indictment or information, and DNA samples that are voluntarily submitted solely for elimination purposes.

This section also provides new authority for State and local law enforcement to perform "keyboard searches" of CODIS; using this tool, law enforcement can attempt to match DNA analyses of samples taken from crime suspects against the analyses in CODIS without permanently uploading information into the system. In addition, this section provides for the collection, analysis, and inclusion in CODIS of DNA samples from all convicted federal felony
offenders - another significant expansion of the national database.

If the Department of Justice plans to modify or supplement the core genetic markers needed for compatibility with the CODIS system, it must notify the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in writing no less than 180 days before any change is made and explain the reasons therefore.

Sec. 204. Tolling of State of Limitations. Provides that, in a case where DNA testing implicates an identified person in the commission of a felony, except for a felony offense under chapter 109A, no statute of limitations would preclude prosecution of the offense until a time period equal to the statute of limitations has elapsed from the date of identification of the perpetrator.

Sec. 205. Legal Assistance for Victims of Dating Violence. Amends the Violence Against Women Act to include legal assistance for victims of "dating violence," defined as violence committed by a person: (1) who is or has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the victim; and (2) where the existence of such relationship is determined based upon consideration of its length and its type, and upon the frequency of interaction between the persons involved.

Sec. 206. Ensuring Private Laboratory Assistance in Eliminating DNA Backlog. Clarifies that grants may be made through vouchers and contracts to private for-profit laboratories to assist in collection of DNA samples from offenders and processing of crime scene DNA evidence.


Sec. 301. Short Title. This title may be cited as the "DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act of 2004."

Sec. 302. Ensuring Public Crime Laboratory Compliance with Federal Standards. Requires that eligible State and local government public crime labs are accredited and undergo external audits, not less than once every 2 years, to demonstrate compliance with Federal standards established by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Sec. 303. DNA Training and Education for Law Enforcement, Correctional Personnel, and Court Officers. Authorizes grants to provide training, technical assistance, education and information relating to the identification, collection, preservation, analysis and use of DNA samples and DNA evidence by law enforcement personnel and other first responders who collect or examine crime scene evidence; court officers, including prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges; forensic science professionals; and corrections personnel. The grant program is authorized through 2009 at $12.5 million per year.

Sec. 304. Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Program Grants. Authorizes grants to provide training, technical assistance, education and information relating to the identification, collection, preservation, analysis and use of DNA samples and DNA evidence by medical personnel and other personnel, including doctors, medical examiners, coroners, nurses, victim service providers, and other medical professionals, including existing sexual assault and sexual assault examination programs (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE), and Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). The grant program is authorized through 2009 at $30 million per year.

Sec. 305. DNA Research and Development. Authorizes grants for research and development to improve forensic DNA technology, including funding of demonstration projects involving law enforcement agencies and criminal justice participants to evaluate the use of forensic DNA technology. The grant program is authorized through 2009 at $15 million per year.

Sec. 306. National Forensic Science Commission. Directs the Attorney General to appoint a National Forensic Science Commission, composed of members from the forensic science and criminal justice communities, which will be responsible for examining various issues, including: (1) maximizing the use of forensic sciences to solve crimes and protect public safety; (2) increasing the number of qualified forensic scientists; (3) disseminating best practices concerning the collection and analyses of forensic evidence; and (4) assessing Federal, State and local privacy protection laws and practices relating to access to, or use of, stored DNA samples and analyses. The grant program is authorized through 2009 at $500,000 per year.

Sec. 307. FBI DNA Programs. Authorizes $42.1 million per year through 2009 for FBI DNA programs and activities, including (1) nuclear DNA analysis; (2) mitochondrial DNA analysis; (3) regional mitochondrial DNA laboratories; (4) the Combined DNA Index System; (5) the Federal Convicted Offender DNA Program; and (6) DNA research and development.

Sec. 308. DNA Identification of Missing Persons. Authorizes $2 million per year through 2009 for grants to promote the use of forensic DNA technology to identify missing persons and unidentified human remains.

Sec. 309. Enhanced Criminal Penalties for Unauthorized Disclosure or Use of DNA Information. Modifies the existing criminal provision for unauthorized disclosure of DNA information to include unauthorized "use" of such information, and increases the potential fine to $100,000 for each criminal offense.

Sec. 310. Tribal Coalition Grants. Amends the eligibility criteria for discretionary grants under the Violence Against Women Act to include tribal coalitions, and thereby directly supports nonprofit, nongovernmental tribal domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions.

Sec. 311. Expansion of the Paul Coverdell Forensic Sciences Improvement Grant Program.Expands existing grant program to permit funds to be used to eliminate a backlog in the analysis of forensic science evidence, including ballistics examination, latent prints, and toxicology, and extends authorization of appropriations for 2007, 2008 and 2009, at $20 million a year. Current authorizations are $128,067,000 for 2004, $56,733,000 for 2005, and $42,067,000 for 2006. This section further amends the program to require any State applying for funds to certify that it has a process in place to conduct independent external investigations into any allegations of serious negligence or misconduct affecting the integrity of forensic results.

Sec. 312. Report to Congress. Requires the Attorney General to submit a report, not later than 2 years after enactment, relating to implementation of this title and title II.


Sec. 401. Short Title. This title may be cited as the "Innocence Protection Act of 2004."

Subtitle 1_Exonerating The Innocent Through DNA Testing

Sec. 411. Federal Post-Conviction DNA Testing. Establishes rules and procedures governing applications for DNA testing by inmates in the Federal system. A court shall order DNA testing if the applicant asserts under penalty of perjury that he or she is actually innocent, and the proposed DNA testing may produce new material evidence that supports such assertion and raises a reasonable probability that the applicant did not commit the offense. Motions filed more than 5 years after enactment and 3 years after conviction are presumed untimely, but such presumption may be rebutted upon good cause shown. Penalties are established in the event that testing inculpates the applicant. Where test results are exculpatory, the court shall grant the applicant's motion for a new trial or resentencing if the test results and other evidence establish by compelling evidence that a new trial would result in an acquittal.

This section also prohibits the destruction of DNA evidence in a Federal criminal case while a defendant remains incarcerated, with certain exceptions. The government may destroy DNA evidence if the defendant waived the right to DNA testing; if the defendant was notified after his conviction became final that the evidence may be destroyed and did not file a motion for testing; if a court has denied a motion for testing; or if the evidence has already been tested and the results included the defendant as the source. If the evidence is large or bulky, the government may remove and preserve a representative sample. Intentional violations of these evidence-retention provisions to prevent evidence from being tested or used in court are punishable by a term of imprisonment. Nothing in this section supersedes any law requiring that evidence be preserved.

Sec. 412. Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Grant Program. Authorizes $5 million a year in grants through 2009 to help States to defray the costs of post- conviction DNA testing. This program is named in honor of Kirk Bloodsworth, the first death row inmate to be exonerated by DNA testing.

Sec. 413. Incentive Grants to States to Ensure Consideration of Claims of Actual Innocence. Reserves the total amount of funds appropriated to carry out sections 303, 305, 308, and 412 of this Act for States that have adopted reasonable procedures for providing post-conviction DNA testing and preserving DNA evidence. States that have already adopted such procedures through legislation enacted before this Act shall qualify for these grants.

Subtitle 2_Improving The Quality of Representation In State Capital Cases

Sec. 421. Capital Representation Improvement Grants. Authorizes a grant program, to be administered by the Attorney General, to improve the quality of legal representation provided to indigent defendants in State capital cases. Grants shall be used to establish, implement, or improve an effective system for providing competent legal representation in capital cases, but may not be used to fund representation in specific cases. An effective system is one in which a public defender program or other entity establishes qualifications for attorneys who may be appointed to represent indigents in capital cases; establishes and maintains a roster of qualified attorneys and assigns attorneys from the roster (or provides the trial judge with a choice of attorneys from the roster); trains and monitors the performance of such attorneys; and ensures funding for the full cost of competent legal representation by the defense team and any outside experts. A State may also qualify for these grants if it has adopted and substantially complies with statutory procedures enacted before this Act under which the trial judge is required to appoint qualified attorneys from a roster maintained by a State or regional selection committee or similar entity.

Sec. 422. Capital Prosecution Improvement Grants. As part of the same program established in section 421, authorizes grants to improve the representation of the public in State capital cases. Grants shall be used to design and implement training programs for capital prosecutors; develop, implement, and enforce appropriate standards and qualifications for such prosecutors and assess their performance; establish programs under which prosecutors conduct a systematic review of cases in which a defendant is sentenced to death in order to identify cases in which post-conviction DNA testing is appropriate; and assist the families of murder victims.

Sec. 423. Applications. Establishes requirements for States applying for grants under this subtitle, including a long-term strategy and detailed implementation plan that reflects consultation with the judiciary, the organized bar, and State and local prosecutor and defender organizations, and establishes as a priority improvement in the quality of trial-level representation of indigents charged with capital crimes and trial-level prosecution of capital crimes in order to enhance the reliability of capital trial verdicts.

Sec. 424. State Reports. Requires States receiving funds under this subtitle to submit an annual report to the Attorney General identifying the activities carried out with the funds and explaining how each activity complies with the terms and conditions of the grant.

Sec. 425. Evaluations by Inspector General and Administrative Remedies. Directs the Inspector General of the Department of Justice to submit periodic reports to the Attorney General evaluating the compliance of each State receiving funds under this subtitle with the terms and conditions of the grant. In conducting such evaluations, the Inspector General shall give priority to States at the highest risk of noncompliance. If, after receiving a report from the Inspector General, the Attorney General finds that a State is not in compliance, the Attorney General shall take a series of steps to bring the State into compliance and report to Congress on the results.

Sec. 426. Authorization of Appropriations. Authorizes $75 million a year for five years to carry out this subtitle. States receiving grants under this subtitle shall allocate the funds equally between the programs established in sections 421 and 422.

Subtitle 3_Compensation Of the Wrongfully Convicted

Sec. 431. Increased Compensation in Federal Cases for the Wrongfully Convicted. Increases the maximum amount of damages that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims may awardagainst the United States in cases of unjust imprisonment from a flat $5,000 to $50,000 per year in non-capital cases, and $100,000 per year in capital cases.

Sec. 432. Sense of Congress Regarding Compensation in State Death Penalty Cases. Expresses the sense of Congress that States should provide reasonable compensation to any person found to have been unjustly convicted of an offense against the State and sentenced to death.

By Steve Hall posted 25 October 04

Related DNA Links:

DNA fingerprinting 'no longer foolproof'...

The genetic profiles held by police for criminal investigations are not sophisticated enough to prevent false identifications, according to the father of DNA fingerprinting.

Military lawyers await probe on DNA tampering
The Army's Criminal Investigation Command said nearly 500 forensic test results from all services dating back 10 years are under review after one of its examiners allegedly faked results. About 119 of those cases pertain to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Expert baffled by Falconio evidence DNA contamination
NT: The director of the Northern Territory's forensic science unit has told a Darwin court he does not know how his DNA contaminated a key piece of evidence in the Peter Falconio murder trial. [lost trial? After all he wasn't found?]

Corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes
Others have raised concerns about corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes.

The ABC for good or evil?
He had a suspect that he wanted to find guilty based on the chances of a spouse killing a spouse which were greater in anycase, at least more likely than that of a stranger.

First Grabs To Control Our DNA
A small company in Australia has been subjected to gross denials of rights after DNA database technology was stolen from it's company. This one year saga has spawned them to form a new approach to projects of importance to all people.

Worries over DNA and racial profiling
UK: Black men are four times more likely than White men to be on the national DNA database and there is growing concern about racial profiling in criminal investigations.

Lab's Errors Force Review of 150 Virginia DNA Cases
US: WASHINGTON, - A sharply critical independent audit found that Virginia's nationally recognized central crime laboratory had botched DNA tests in a leading capital murder case. The findings prompted Gov. Mark Warner to order a review of the lab's handling of testing in 150 other cases as well.

Witch-hunt targets scientists
QLD: SCIENTISTS at the John Tonge Centre are being threatened with jail in the wake of a government hunt for the source of leaks highlighting serious problems in the forensic laboratories.

Fresh swipe at DNA labs
Scientist Kris Bentley, whose departure yesterday follows that of forensic biologist Deanna Belzer after concerns about "inaccurate" DNA results and unvalidated equipment, issued a scathing resignation letter leaked to The Courier-Mail.

DNA leads 'CSI' cold-case squad to first arrest?
Frozen case? I don't really know what to say about them until they come up with their case. They say it involves DNA evidence but that's the only stuff we know.

Criminal's DNA filed under relative's name
The New South Wales Opposition is calling for an investigation into claims that police have entered DNA data for serious offenders under incorrect names.

DNA Evidence of Bipartisanship
Last week the U.S. Congress passed the Justice for All Act, which includes provisions of the Innocence Protection Act. As of this posting, the legislation has not yet been signed by President Bush. Attached is an analysis of the legislation prepared by the Justice Project.

DNA fingerprinting 'no longer foolproof'...
The genetic profiles held by police for criminal investigations are not sophisticated enough to prevent false identifications, according to the father of DNA fingerprinting.

PROFESSOR BARRY BOETTCHER: Now, there should be a law enacted within Queensland so that when cases come up like this they can be brought to attention and if an appropriate authority such as a judge of your Supreme Court considers that it merits further inquiry, an inquiry be ordered.

'Rape' officer clears his name
UK: A former policeman has been cleared of rape after protesting his innocence for 15 years. Judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh ruled that Brian Kelly, 47, had suffered a miscarriage of justice over crucial DNA evidence.

New unit investigates unsolved deaths?
A new police unit has been established to investigate more than 360 unsolved deaths in New South Wales, with many of the deaths dating back more than 30 years.

Death Penalty Forensics?
In proposing a new death penalty for Massachusetts last month, Governor Mitt Romney offered firm assurance that no innocent people would be executed: Convictions, he said, will be based on science.

Prisoner's bid for review denied
Prisoner Roger Cheney has lost a Supreme Court action to have a judicial review of his 1993 convictions an 30-year jail sentence. Justice Shaw said he was concerned about the prisoner's claim that DNA evidence held by the police could prove his innocence. Although Cheney had requested the results of the DNA tests, he had been denied access to the forensic analysis.

QLD Prisoners DNA Bid THE curious case of Queensland's "cat lady" murder is set to test the state's legal authorities again, with the man convicted of the killing asking the Attorney-General to take the unprecedented step of releasing blood samples for DNA retesting.

Database clears up crimes?
NSW Police Minister John Watkins said at the launch of a Sydney conference of international forensic experts meeting to mark 100 years of fingerprinting in NSW. He said the collection of DNA from prisoners and suspects in NSW during the past two years had led to more than 5,400 matches on the forensic database.

A Question of Innocence
Katrina Bolton: The promise of DNA freeing the innocent as well as convicting the guilty has been repeated by politicians across Australia, usually while DNA laws are being expanded. The promise was made as a national DNA database, ‘Crimtrac’ was created, and it was made as NSW introduced legislation giving unprecedented powers to take DNA samples from prisoners, by force if necessary.

Mouse Trap Game? Tried Until Guilty!
Two New South Wales Labor MPs have strongly criticised the Carr Government's proposed abolition of the 800 year old double jeopardy rule, which stops people being tried a second time for the same crime. The left-wing MPs have branded the reforms as dishonest and unjust in a formal submission to the Attorney-General's department.

Weak Carr Government suspends Innocence Panel
It's a callous disregard for justice! The panel takes applications from convicted prisoners for DNA evidence to be analysed a move that may help in a future court appeal.

JUST BEAT IT! Govt lauds crime-solving technology?
The New South Wales Government says advances in crime solving technology are helping the progress of hundreds of police investigations.

DNA yours or mine?
Now they have isolated two genes that they say tells you if you're more likely to be depressed. What does that mean? It could mean that you should stay in jail because you are more likely than not to continue your offending behaviour according to a Department of Corrective Services Forensic Psychiatrist.

DNA testing causes debate in murder case
The use of voluntary DNA testing in the investigation of a murder case in New South Wales has been applauded by victim support groups who are ill informed about the process said Justice Action's spokesperson Gregory Kable.

Abolition of double jeopardy law a political stunt: NSW Opp
Why draconian laws? What about the re-trial by media that goes along with it? Twice shy?

The NSW government has finally appointed somebody (Justice John Nader) to head up its Innocence Panel and has produced leaflets and forms for people convicted of serious crimes (eg murder) to apply for DNA testing if they believe it may help prove their innocence. You can get the info by phoning 1300 881 717 or writing to the panel at GPO Box 45 Sydney NSW 2001.

Prisoners can prove innocence for $20
Les Kennedy Daily Telegraph reported today that" Prisoners who believe that DNA will prove they were wrongly convicted will have the chance to prove their innocence for a mere $20 administration fee. The move comes 20 months after NSW inmates were asked to provide DNA for comparison with a databank of DNA from unsolved crime scenes for possible convictions.

DNA = Do Not Assume - DNA Controversies!
The national DNA database of all known offenders proposed by Prime Minister Tony Blair could mean that innocent people will be accused of crimes they did not commit.

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder As long as the the prisoners DNA wasn't planted at the crime scene. It is one thing to force prisoners to hand over their DNA and another thing to exploit it.

DNA - A Shadow of Doubt
One case points to misinterpretation of evidence that helped put a man behind bars. The other shows just how easy it is to plant falsely incriminating DNA evidence. As our forensic techniques become ever more sensitive, so the possibility of abuse continues to grow. 

Related Death Penalty Links:

Australian Prime Minister John Howard says it again!
Mr Howard said that although he does not support the re-introduction of capital punishment in Australia, other countries had the right to impose their own laws on punishment. Mr Howard (again) re-confirmed his support for the death penalty for the Bali bombers.

Our Two Priority Bills sent to White House
US: The 8th National CURE Convention last June lobbied on Capitol Hill the Innocence Protection Act in the Senate and the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2004 in the House. On Sunday, October 10th, Congress passed both bills and sent them to the President to be signed.

US: A Californian man who beheaded a german shepherd dog he had named after his girlfriend, has been sentenced to 25 years to life under California's three-strikes law.

Kids from 3 to 83 years old beat candy labeled "Justice" out of a big Texas-shaped piqata on Aug. 1 as dozens gathered in the Houston City Hall Park to celebrate the 30th birthday of Nanon Williams, an innocent person on Texas death row.

THE LAND OF BIBLES, GUNS, PATRIOTS AND THE 'WORLD ROLE MODEL' FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: The state of Alabama, USA, executed James Barney Hubbard. So what? ... you might say ... America executes prisoners almost every week!

Doing Time for Political Crime
Dave Gilbert, serving a life-sentence in New York, has just come out with an important, wonderful book, No Surrender: Writings from an anti-imperialist political prisoner, and Staughton Lynd, counsellor to death row in Ohio, has just published the scathing j’accuse of our times, Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising.

Appealing a Death Sentence Based on Future Danger USA-HOUSTON, June 9 - Texas juries in capital cases must make a prediction. They may impose a death sentence only if they find that the defendant will probably commit more violent acts.

Death Penalty Forensics?
In proposing a new death penalty for Massachusetts last month, Governor Mitt Romney offered firm assurance that no innocent people would be executed: Convictions, he said, will be based on science.

Clive Stafford-Smith: The Death Penalty
British lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith, who for the last 20 years has worked with death row prisoners in the U.S. is returning to his home in Britain, to fight for the Guantanamo Bay prisoners in Cuba.

Silencing the Cells: Mass Incarceration and Legal Repression in U.S. Prisons People without a voice are not people in any meaningful sense of the word. Silenced people cannot express their ideas; they can neither consent nor protest. They are reduced to being pawns in the schemes of the powerful, mendicants who must accept whatever is imposed upon them. In order to keep people in a state of subjugation, silencing their voices is essential. Nowhere is this clearer than in U.S. prisons.

U.N. Group Seeks End To Executions The United States, Japan, China, India and Muslim nations including Saudi Arabia opposed the resolution. Burkina Faso, Cuba, Guatemala, South Korea and Sri Lanka abstained.

US Execution: Huang Thanh Le
Dear Friends, this is so sad especially for our dear friend, San Nguyen. San who lives in Oklahoma worked very hard with the rest of the Vietnamese community to stop Mr. Le's execution.

US Execution: Please contact the Governor
The Vietnamese-American Community, the ACLU, and many others want the March 30 execution of Huang Thanh Le commuted.

Death penalty: a lawyer sees the light
The observation by [Cherie Blair?] "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus" is illustrated by the two nations' differing reactions to the use of the death penalty as a legitimate punishment for murder.

Cherie Blair attacks US over death penalty in Catholic paper
Cherie Blair has renewed her attack on America's use of the death penalty. In a book review in the Catholic journal The Tablet, under her maiden name Cherie Booth, she says: "Capital cases are uniquely prone to error and thus call into question whether we can ever be really sure of obtaining the just result.

Insane prisoner granted stay in the USA
The case of a condemned killer with a history of paranoid delusions and violent outbursts raises questions about executing the mentally ill.

OHIO: Judges join dissent on execution delay
Lewis Williams - his attorneys argued that he was mentally retarded, was executed by lethal injection on Jan. 14 2004 in Lucasville, Ohio at age 45.

Mexico Awaits Hague Ruling on Citizens on U.S. Death Row
Sbaldo Torres, a convicted murderer on death row in Oklahoma, should have been dead by now, his appeals exhausted, his time up. But because 15 judges in The Hague, acting at the request of the government of Mexico, have forbidden his execution for now, he is alive in a cell in McAlester, awaiting the next move from the Netherlands.

Jury Passes On Business Of Killing
US: This drives the death penalty crowd in the legislature nuts. Yet another jury - another 12 men and women, tried and true, who had all attested to their belief in the death penalty - has refused to join in the killing business.

Ultimate Punishment: Dealing With the Death Penalty
Scott Turow has long juggled two careers‹that of a novelist and that of a lawyer. He wrote much of his first and best known legal thriller, Presumed Innocent, on the commuter train to and from work during the eight years he spent as an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago, and he has churned out another blockbuster every third year since joining the firm of Sonnenschein Nath and Rosenthal in 1986.

A Question of Innocence Rubin Carter: Day after day, week after week, I would sit in that filthy cell, seething. I was furious at everyone. At the two state witnesses who lied, at the police who put them up to it, at the prosecutor who sanctioned it, at the judge who allowed it, at the jury who accepted it, and at my own lawyer, for not being able to defeat it.

Are you sane enough to be executed?
New York: The US Supreme Court has let stand a ruling by a federal appeals court in February that officials in the state of Arkansas had the right to force a convicted murderer to take drug treatment to make him sane enough to be executed.

Amnesty steps up campaign to abolish death penalty
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International is urging people around the world to pressure countries to abolish the death penalty. Amnesty director Irene Khan has released a statement, which raps governments for carrying out "executions".

Port Lincoln Mayor has lost the plot!
Controversial Port Lincoln Mayor Peter Davis has called for drug addicts to be given a lethal injection to cut rising illicit drug use on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula.

'LAND OF THE FREE' SET TO EXECUTE TWO PRISONERS BY FIRING SQUAD: Wanted: Willing executioners for two convicted murderers. Must be psychologically sound and familiar with .30-calibre rifles. No victims' relatives need apply.

There has been some debate whether: 'Capital punishment should be re-instated in Australia, since the terrible events that took place in Bali' In all democratic nations, every human being is considered innocent of any alleged crime, until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt by a court of law. For this reason, certain safeguards must be used for capital punishment cases.

Keith Clay was executed tonight, becoming the 300th prisoner in Texas to die by lethal injection since the rogue state resumed the death penalty 20 years ago.

" ... Our nation was built on a promise of life and liberty for all citizens. Guided by a deep respect for human dignity, our Founding Fathers worked to secure these rights for future generations, and today we continue to seek to fulfil their promise in our laws and our society.

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Please note the following article shows clearly the hateful, uncaring and anti-human rights attitude as reflected by the Governor of Texas (and most other elected Texas officials).

Supreme Court Justice Blocks Execution
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens blocked Indiana from putting to death its oldest death row inmate Tuesday to give the 71-year-old prisoner, who is partially deaf and blind, extra time to file federal appeals.

Stephen Romei: Death knell sounds for US capital law
GEORGE RYAN, outgoing governor of the US state of Illinois a republican who leaves office today, has put US capital punishment on the road to oblivion by commuting the sentences of all 167 of the state's death row inmates. Three were re-sentenced to 40 years' jail and the remaining 164 got life without parole.

Bush rules out death sentence review US President George W Bush says has dismissed any chance of a review of America's system of capital punishment.

Amnesty urges Bush to shut death row
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has urged US President George W. Bush to take a "moral stand" and abolish the death penalty after the Illinois Governor dramatically emptied that state's death row.

USA - A NATION IN TURMOIL: As the year 2002 draws to a close, little if anything, has changed in the United States in regards to state-sanctioned killing. Various campaigns, calls for clemency, petitions, and international condemnation, have failed to humanize U.S. politicians.

Here come de Judge - Time to Leave [266]
There have always been examples of rulings and interpretations that have supported the saying "The law is an ass". This is increasingly the case, because even the best intentioned judges are now facing an avalanche of new technologies and social change. But, it is no good making excuses for the judiciary and continuing to accept their strange interpretations. We must recognise that not only judges but the whole legal system will struggle more and more. In the end the whole system will become a farce. This is the way empires end.