No access to DNA / forensic testing
Even where the law provides a mechanism for prisoners to get DNA testing after they are convicted, people in prison often have a hard time getting a court to order that testing. Several of IPNO’s clients who were exonerated by DNA testing had been denied testing when they had written to the courts previously, without a lawyer, and asked for DNA testing.
Many people in prison lack the knowledge of science to know whether or how DNA testing might help their case and so they are not in a position to properly explain to a court. Statutes in some states, including Louisiana, require a prisoner to make a threshold showing of doubt as to their guilt before they can get testing. Although this standard should be low, prisoners without a lawyer often get denied testing because the state is able to argue that they are guilty better than they can argue that they might be innocent.
Other kinds of forensic testing are almost impossible to get from inside prison because there are no statutes allowing prisoners to ask for testing after they’ve been convicted. If unknown fingerprints were left at the crime scene, there is almost no way for a prisoner, once convicted, to ask them to be compared to another known-suspect.
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