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Document Type

Notes

Abstract

Forensic science is used as evidence in criminal cases regularly. Recently, however, scientists have criticized several commonly used forensic methods that are unreliable, scientifically invalid, and have contributed to wrongful convictions. In contrast, DNA testing, which is reliable and valid, is a powerful resource for exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals. Congress and all fifty states have enacted statutes providing access to post-conviction DNA testing. Only nine states, however, have enacted statutes granting post-conviction litigants access to another important resource—law enforcement DNA database searches. Even though Congress amended the federal post-conviction DNA testing statute to provide access to DNA database searches in 2016, only applicants incarcerated for federal offenses are eligible for relief under this statute. This Note argues that, to remedy wrongful convictions, all state legislatures should amend post-conviction DNA testing statutes to provide access to DNA database searches. Alternatively, Congress should amend the federal post-conviction DNA testing statute to provide post-conviction litigants wrongly convicted of state offenses with access to DNA database searches.

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