On February 1, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) introduced legislation (S. 250) that would reauthorize the Justice for All Act. The Act, first passed in 2004, provided important tools and assistance to help state and local governments use DNA evidence to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. It also bolstered crime victim support services.
If re-authorized, the Justice for All Act would direct more resources to improving the quality of representation in state death penalty cases, adjust the requirements to obtain grants through the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Grant program so that more states can apply, and allows post-conviction DNA testing at the federal level for defendants who waived their rights in a plea agreement. Senator Leahy said, “The programs created by the Justice for All Act have had an enormous impact, and it is crucial that we reauthorize them. Americans need and deserve a criminal justice system which keeps us safe, ensures fairness and accuracy, and fulfills the promise of our constitution. This bill will take important steps to bring us closer to that goal.”
The bill is co-sponsored by senators Al Franken (D-Minn), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn). The National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National District Attorneys Association, and the National Criminal Justice Association have written letters supporting the legislation.
Futher information can be found here.