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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 201460 Find in a Library
Title: Capital Punishment and DNA Testing, Final Product
Author(s): Albert P. De Amicis
Date Published: April 9, 2003
Page Count: 37
Document: PDF
Type: Historical Overview; Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In examining the use of the death penalty and the importance of DNA testing for defendants at risk of and having been sentenced to death, this paper explores the viability of a DNA-testing policy that could be standardized and mandated by the Federal courts.
Abstract: In defining the problem, the paper reviews the history of legislation and court decisions pertinent to the mandating and administration of the death penalty in the United States. Some problems identified in many death-sentence cases are the use of public defenders who lack skills and resources for defending those at risk for the death penalty, overzealous prosecutors who want to establish themselves as "tough on crime," and the continued patterns of racial disparity in the implementation of capital punishment. Given the many problems associated with death penalty cases and evidence of the risk that innocent persons will be sentenced to death, this paper proposes that an immediate moratorium be imposed on the death penalty until specified objectives can be mandated by law. One such objective is a mandate that by 2005 any person sitting on death row should be given DNA testing when there is DNA evidence available from the case and was not introduced at trial. Other mandated objectives are that by 2005 Legal Resource Centers will be re-established so qualified lawyers can handle death penalty cases and postconviction DNA testing; by 2005 all labs must be regulated by Federal guidelines to ensure that DNA evidence is intact and uncontaminated for preconviction and postconviction hearings; by 2005 DNA testing costs be deferred to the State if the inmate is indigent; by 2005 DNA could also lend the evidence to the guilty party and ensure that justice is done; and by 2005 all law enforcement agencies should have proper storage for the preservation of DNA evidence that can guarantee the safe delivery for trial or for a person who has already been convicted and is sitting on death row. 27 references and appended data tables
Main Term(s): Corrections policies
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Criminal justice system reform; DNA fingerprinting; Law reform; State laws
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