Monday, March 17, 2008

Innocence in Colorado

The Innocence Blog has reported that the state legislature is close to approving a bill that would allow people who's case evidence was destroyed against orders to be allowed a new trial. According to The Denver Post:
The legislation, filed Wednesday and signed by 82 House and Senate members out of 100 — including several former police officers — could mark the first time state leaders have attempted to reverse a criminal conviction, according to legislative librarians. And veteran lawmakers called the number of backers unusually large.

If the pledged support carries through to the actual vote, the bill would have enough votes to withstand a veto.

This new bill is being sponsored in response to cases like that Clarence Moses-El who has spent over 20 years in prison for a rape he says he did not commit. In 1995, when DNA testing became a possibility, Moses-El was allowed to have his DNA tested against evidence found at the scene. Unfortunately, before Moses-El's attorney could retrieve the evidence, Denver police threw away the victim's clothing and swabbings of her body. The tests that Moses-EL says would exonerate him have never been conducted. House Majority Leader Alice Madden, D-Boulder had this to say about the apparent support for the bill:

It's pretty unusual for this kind of support. There's probably been some resolutions supported by everybody — apple-pie stuff. But this is incredibly moving. Given what we know about mistakes being made, and innocent people getting out based on DNA, it's needed more than ever.

We'll keep you updated as this important legislation develops. In the meantime if you live in Colorado, contact your representative and show your support! Or, no matter where you live, you can contact The Innocence Project to find out what you can do to help.

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