Kentucky Senate Bill 23 has unanimously been passed allowing those in prison to seek post conviction DNA-testing in order to prove their innocence. In The Morehead News, the sponsor of Bill 23 Senator John Schickel claimed, “it was a matter of justice.”
Currently Kentucky law only allows for those on death row to seek DNA testing. This bill would expand access to all those serving time in prison with certain exceptions. Convicted felons who pled guilty or took an Alford plea – a defendant does not admit guilt but recognizes the prosecution has sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction – at trial are excluded in an amendment of the bill. A similar bill in the House does not include these exclusions.
Many in the Senate did not approve of the amendment knowing without a doubt that many wrongful convictions are a result of false confessions. However, the approval of the bill was pushed as a step forward towards a improving an imperfect justice system.
In the past bills similar to Kentucky Senate Bill 23 were presented but did not make it beyond the Senate floor. The articles continues as Senator Robin Webb explained her support of the bill and claimed the bill, “is not perfect but it is a great, great start.”
Bills such as Kentucky Senate Bill 23 are small examples of major reform and improvement for the criminal justice system. As more of these bills pass in certain states in the US, the light at the end of the tunnel for those wrongfully convicted gets larger.