Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: April 17, 2013
Sen. Jim Halligan
Senate approves post-conviction DNA testing
Legislation enabling convicted criminals to request
DNA testing of evidence in their cases has been approved by the
State Senate. House Bill 1068, by Sen.
Jim Halligan and Rep. Lee Denney, would enable those convicted
of violent crimes and sentenced to 25 years or more to request DNA
testing of evidence. The measure was approved unanimously on Wednesday.
Halligan said he worked with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
as well as Oklahoma County Public Defender Bob Ravitz on the legislation
and with Sen. Anthony Sykes, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
He noted Oklahoma is the only state in the nation that does not
have a post-conviction DNA law.
“More than 300 people have been exonerated through post-conviction
DNA testing in this country, including 11 here in Oklahoma,”
said Halligan, R-Stillwater.
“Not only can DNA testing ensure justice for those wrongfully
convicted, but just as importantly, it can lead authorities to the
person who actually committed the crime—that’s exactly
what’s happened in almost half of those exonerations.”
Eyewitness misidentification, faulty forensic testing, false confessions
and incriminating statements are among the factors that led to wrongful
convictions that were later overturned through DNA testing.
HB 1068 permits a person who asserts he was wrongly convicted to
file a petition with the sentencing court to request DNA testing
and provides guidance for that court to determine if post-conviction
testing will be granted.
“I believe the current system can be improved and that is
clearly shown by the fact that we are the last state to embrace
this type of legislation,” said Denney, R-Cushing. “I
am proud of the support the bill has received this session.”
The measure now returns to the House for consideration of Senate
amendments and then will be sent to the governor for approval.
For more information contact:
Sen. Halligan: (405) 521-5572