Tuesday, March 19, 2013
SB 1292 is a modest but vitally important reform, and is a significant step toward a more fair, reliable and just criminal justice system in Texas, said Senator Ellis. It will help reduce the possibility that the ultimate mistake is made with someone receiving the ultimate penalty.
Under current state law, DNA testing is not required prior to trial, and therefore may only be conducted on a small subset of the biological evidence collected by authorities. There are a variety of reasons why investigators may not always test all the evidence they collect including cost, timing, or the fact that the full inculpatory or exculpatory potential of the evidence may not have been immediately apparent. Where the exculpatory value of crime scene evidence is only later discovered on appeals, both the defendant and the victim’s families have suffered a preventable injustice that could have been avoided. Subjecting biological evidence to DNA testing in advance will also help prevent wrongful convictions. To avoid the imposition of an unfunded mandate on local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies, SB 1292 requires that a Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab perform the mandatory DNA test at the State’s expense, and provide the results of those tests to both the defendant and state prosecutors.