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Monday, March 31, 2008

New Bill Passed in VA to Notice to Convicts when DNA Evidence is Found in Old Labs

From inrich.com: A state budget amendment would require the Virginia Forensic Science Board to notify felons when biological evidence is found in their old lab files.

More than 530,000 files from 1973 through 1988 -- before DNA testing was widely used in criminal cases -- have been searched in recent years to find biological material that might exonerate those wrongfully convicted.

The amendment, passed by the General Assembly, must be signed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine next month to take effect. It was drafted by Del. David B. Albo, R-Fairfax, chairman of the Virginia State Crime Commission and a member of the forensic science board.

Albo, a lawyer, said he believes no one notified will request testing because it would only confirm their guilt.

However, he added, if there is a chance that even one person is innocent, the effort must be made to make sure he or she knows of the newly discovered evidence.

At its January meeting, the board, which oversees the Department of Forensic Science, voted against a proposal to notify felons when biological evidence that may be suitable for DNA testing is found in their files. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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