Monday, September 22, 2014

Gerard Richardson: New Jersey; Star-Ledger wants New Jersey to get rid of the "mountain" of red tape that impedes use of DNA to exonerate the innocent -and to catch the guilty before they can go on to commit more crimes.

COUNTDOWN: 10  days to Wrongful Conviction Day: (Thursday October 2, 2014);Quote from the Knoops Innocence Project (The Netherlands), a participant: "We take our clients very serious, even if all odds are against them
To quote one of our clients who broke down in tears upon his final release after a proven miscarriage of justice: “Not so much because I got out of prison, but because I was finally believed.”"

EDITORIAL:  "End the absurd bureaucracy around DNA testing," published by the Star-Ledger on September 18 2014.

PHOTO CAPTION:  "Gerard Richardson and his attorney at their appearance before Superior Court Judge John Pursel in Somerville, to discuss new DNA evidence. Richardson was convicted in 1995 and wasn't exonerated until nearly two decades later."

GIST:  "Given the incredible power of DNA to exonerate the innocent and expose the guilty, it's alarming that a mountain of red tape still impedes its use. This new forensic tool has been a game-changer for our criminal justice system, exonerating more than 300 people nationwide. One of them was New Jersey's own Gerard Richardson, an Elizabeth man who spent 19 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit. He finally won his freedom last year, and today, he'll be in Trenton with his lawyer from the Innocence Project, to tell Senate lawmakers why it's so crucial to pass a bill that fixes our state's DNA testing laws. Two big problems continue to ruin innocent lives and let the guilty walk free: First, it's too difficult to use DNA test results from private laboratories to reveal the true perpetrator of a crime. Second, it's virtually impossible for an ex-con who still swears he's innocent to get DNA testing.........We've got to catch guilty people immediately. This bill proposed in the Senate would help do that, by making it easier to enter DNA test results from private laboratories into the national DNA databank, to settle claims of innocence and reveal the true perpetrator of the crime. The same bill would also fix the second serious problem with our state's DNA law -- that it prohibits testing for anyone who is not currently in custody. This means that if you've already done your prison time, you have no way to prove your innocence, even if you offer to pay for DNA testing yourself.
The crime scene evidence is in state custody, and will only be released to a defendant who is currently in prison. What sense does that make?.........Lawmakers should vote yes on this bill, because the costs of both fixes is minimal. If an in-person site inspection is necessary for a private laboratory, the defendant can pay the travel costs. And allowing ex-cons to get DNA testing affects only a small number of people -- after all, if you're no longer in custody, you have little incentive to seek DNA testing if you're guilty. As Richardson will testify, the very least we owe the innocent is a fresh start."

The entire editorial can be found at:

For background on Wrongful Conviction Day see the following link:
Interested participants may sign up by contacting Win Wahrer of The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted at:


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