Loopholes in the Law

Pennsylvania is one of 46 states with laws providing post-conviction DNA access. That means that individuals convicted of a crime can request — and must be granted — access to DNA testing that could prove their innocence or guilt.

Unfortunately, what the law allows and what actually happens are two different things.

Anthony Wright has been in prison for nearly 20 years for a murder he says he didn’t commit. He’s asked for DNA testing, but prosecutors have so far refused to grant his request.

First the prosecutors claimed that since Wright confessed to the crime, he isn’t entitle to testing. (According to the Innocence Project, “One-quarter of the 237 people exonerated by DNA testing gave a false confession or admission to crimes they didn’t commit.”)

Then the prosecutors said that testing isn’t justified unless there’s reasonable doubt about the individual’s guilt. Of course, if there was otherwise “reasonable doubt” the individual would not have been convicted beyond a reasonable doubt in the first place.

Attorneys from the Innocence Project have argued the case before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but it could be months before the court reaches a decision. In the meantime, Wright has little choice but to wait.

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