Prisoners Have No Right to DNA Tests

Posted: June 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled on Thursday that prisoners have no right to DNA testing that may actually prove their innocence. Seriously? Why in the hell shouldn’t prisoners have the right to prove their innocence? For some of them, DNA testing wasn’t available when they were convicted. For others, the testing wasn’t as advanced as it is today. There is absolutely no reason why an innocent person should languish in prison, or worse, be put to death, when they can have DNA testing done that may prove their innocence.

Justice Samuel Alito does bring up a good point. Prisoners who decide to forgo DNA testing during their trial should not have the option later on to conduct this testing. Allowing this he said “would allow prisoners to play games with the criminal justice system.” He continues, “After conviction, with nothing to lose, the defendant could demand DNA testing in the hope that some happy accident — for example, degradation or contamination of the evidence — would provide the basis for seeking postconviction relief.” I have to agree with him on that.

Justice Alito also goes on to say that states would incur significant costs if prisoners were “given a never-before-recognized constitutional right to rummage through the state’s genetic-evidence locker.” I agree that the costs may be quite high, but we’re talking about a person’s freedom, or in some cases their life. What price do you put on that? There must be some way to have the testing done that won’t break the banks of the states. Perhaps the prisoners should pay for the testing. Or maybe they should pay for half of it. I’m not sure what the solution should be, but I do know that these people who are innocent deserve the opportunity to have the testing done to prove so. To deny them this is absolutely deplorable!

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