The state admits that a DNA test now would be conclusive as to whether or not Osborne is guilty. But Alaska has no statute entitling anyone to post-conviction DNA testing, and the prosecution has simply refused to give Osborne access to the evidence. Instead, Alaska has fought tooth and nail to deny Osborne that access, in a decade-long legal battle that will soon culminate with a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. The state’s position has been endorsed in “friend of the court” briefs filed by the federal government, 31 individual states and the New York City Corporation Counsel…
Given the numerous cases in which new evidence, including DNA evidence, has exonerated those who like Osborne seemed very likely guilty, a prosecutor owes it to the public to be open-minded with respect to requests like Osborne’s. If such testing had, in 1997, shown that Osborne was guilty, it would have done no harm – and indeed saved the Alaska taxpayers a huge litigation bill. If Osborne had been shown to be innocent, he could have been released.
An interesting post for all those who love numbers and statistics – like I do – went up at TalkLeft that exposed some interested line items in President Obama’s stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The post called out money appropriated for criminal justice “lock-em-up” programs:
- Violence against women prevention and prosecution programs $225,000,000
- Southern border and high-intensity drug trafficking areas $30,000,000
- ATF Project Gunrunner $10,000,000
- Internet crimes against children initiatives $50,000,000
- Rural drug crime program $125,000,000
- Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants $1,000,000,000
- Justice Department salaries and expenses for administration of police grant programs $10,000,000
- Office of Justice Programs state and local law enforcement assistance (Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants) $2,000,000,000
Finally, several more posts covering the movement to abolish the death penalty, which is picking up steam in many states.
- Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing: Tennessee Study Committee Issues a Report
- The New York TImes: Citing Cost, States Consider End to Death Penalty
- A map and infographic of states with and without capital punishment on Change.org.
- TalkLeft: States Consider Dropping Death Penalty.