Supreme Court decision not allowing prisoners to prove innocence with DNA defies the wisdom of common sense

LatinaLista — The Supreme Court has been very busy these last few weeks. Try as they might to avoid passing any controversial cases — such as today’s vote on keeping Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and last week’s refusal to hear a case that challenged the federal government’s assertion that it could supersede state and local laws to build the fence between Mexico and the U.S — the justices couldn’t avoid controversy entirely this session.

In a decision that many have expressed as “disturbing,” the Supreme Court justices voted to not force states to let prisoners get access to genetic evidence that might prove their innocence.
In other words, for prisoners in Alaska, Oklahoma and Massachusetts — the only states that don’t give convicts access to genetic evidence — these prisoners will be forever doomed to sit in jail because the Supreme Court justices ruled that:

New technology that was not available at trial should not throw fairly won convictions into doubt.

That’s not just disturbing, it’s inhumane and arrogant on a scale beyond reason.


The Supreme Court decision to not let genetic testing prove someone’s innocence just because it wasn’t around at the time of the original court hearing is unbelievably asinine and lowers the phrase “the rule of law” to an all-time low.
According to the Innocence Project, thanks to those states that do allow for convicts to have access to genetic evidence, 240 convicts have been exonerated. If it had not been for access to the genetic evidence, these 240 individuals would have spent their lives begging someone to believe their innocence.
There probably cannot be anything more frightening than being locked up behind bars and repeating you’re innocence but no one believing you, and not being able to prove that innocence even with evidence that existed at the time of the crime.
Yet, that is what is happening and will continue to happen in these three states for which the Supreme Court ruled. By not requiring these states to give access to these prisoners, the national judicial system is complicit in those cases where people were convicted erroneously.
Does the fact that the vast majority of people who would benefit from the testing of genetic evidence are of color mean that their lives are more dispensable in order to making the judicial process seem infallible?
It would seem so. That the Supreme Court believes this reflects on how disconnected these justices are from humanity.
By virtue of Sotomayor’s nomination, the public is learning more about how the Supreme Court is supposed to arrive at their decisions. According to some, the Supreme Court interprets the law; it doesn’t make it.
Yet, this case clearly proves the opposite.
If there is a silver lining to this case, it’s that the number of people who will truly be affected will be very small but even one person deprived of proving their innocence is too many.
To say that judicial process supersedes the sanctity of life is repulsive and underscores just what happens when empathy is not included in the process.

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8 Comments

  1. Velia Koppenhoefer said:

    This is appalling and should cause all to fear the wide reaching implications of what this means. I have a son named Efrén Paredes, Jr. who has been imprisoned since age 15 for a crime he did not commit. He has spent over 20 years in prison to date. While there is no DNA in the case or physical evidence that links Efrén to being the person who committed the crime he was accused of (i.e., murder and robbery) our family knows what it means to have to endure years of legal wrangling trying to get justice for someone who has been wrongly convicted. The denial of ANY evidence that could possibly exonerate someone of a crime they did not commit should shock the conscience of every citizen in the U.S. I strongly people to contact members of Congress in their states and urge them to change this policy. The criminal justice system is not perfect and makes errors. And, people should have to pay for these errors with their lives.

  2. Horace said:

    “The Supreme Court has been very busy these last few weeks. Try as they might to avoid passing any controversial cases — such as today’s vote on keeping Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and last week’s refusal to hear a case that challenged the federal government’s assertion that it could supersede state and local laws to build the fence between Mexico and the U.S — the justices couldn’t avoid controversy entirely this session.”
    Clearly the Court decided that national security and our sovereignty have primacy over environmental laws, as they have and always should. Except for environmental wackos and those who have as ulterior motives to keep our borders open to their relative’s illegal entry and incidentally, common criminals, most people agree with the Court’s decision on that issue.
    Marisa, once again you show yourself ignorant of the Court’s function. The Court does not establish law. Only the States and the Legislative Branch write law. It is up to the law-making branches to decide what is and what isn’t acceptable as proof of guilt or innocence and the procedures of investigation and due process. Apparently you think that the Courts are some kind of God that may interfere wherever it wishes. The Court doesn’t intervene just because its members don’t like a law personnally, only when it is unconstitutional. You seem to think that the Court has to be compassionate. It doesn’t, as compassion is subjective and the law is not necessarily so. It is up to the people to elect pliant legislatures that work their will to establish laws that you would find acceptably compassionate. Re-direct your complaint to Congress and your state legislature, where due process is established. Again, you seem to view the Court as all powerful when its power is limited to interpreting the constitution with as much fidelity as it can muster. Interpretation is not license, as you would have it to be.

  3. Karen said:

    Re: “New technology that was not available at trial should not throw fairly won convictions into doubt.”
    This is a vile statement. The issue is guilt or innocence. They should perform DNA testing on ALL prisoners, and free the ones who are innocent. Sadly, our Supreme Court seems to think keeping potentially innocent people in jail is a good thing.
    This reminds me of when Justice Scalia wrote in Bush v Gore that we shouold not count all the votes because it might ruin Bush’s victory.

  4. Horace said:

    Unlike Marisa and Karen, I believe in the rights of the states to make their own laws without interference by the federal government, unless those laws are contrary to the Constitution of the U.S. If there is a reasonable expectation that a conviction should be re-addressed, it should be up to the state legal systems as established by the states, how to proceed. Imagine the cost of a system which mandates a new Maranda like rule, new and expensive due process, regardless of the likelihood of a case being overturned. Every convict in prison today could immediately demand these expensive tests regardless of other evidence, including eyewitness accounts. The criminals would bankrupt our state treasuries and tie up laboratories and investigators for years into the future even though there is prima facia evidence of guilt, i.e. the person was caught red-handed in the act. This is like Marisa’s other diatribes against the system, heavy on self-righteousness and shallow in intellectual depth.

  5. Karen said:

    we know what “states rights” means. It’s the argument used to prevent the federal government from administering justice.

  6. Alessandra said:

    Actually, “states rights” is to prevent an all-powerful centralized government from gaining control over just about every aspect of our lives.
    If you look back to the debates between our founders, you will see that the debate was whether the federal government should have ANY power whatsoever, or limited power. Some feared that giving the federal government any power at all would lead to tyranny by a centralized government, something that the founders wished to avoid at all costs since that is what they had rebelled against in the first place.
    In the end, they determined that the federal government would have limited powers which are clearly defined in the Constitution.

  7. Horace said:

    “….we know what “states rights” means. It’s the argument used to prevent the federal government from administering justice.”
    It’s a fact that the States also mete out most justice in this country.
    Actually, if you weren’t so ignorant, Karen, you’d know that the Constitution validates the rights of states to act as sovereign powers, to make their won laws as they see fit as long as nothing in the Constitution prohibits doing so. It’s a little thing called the 10th Amendment. Just because you don’t like the idea doesn’t discredit it.
    Many states are challenging the federal government’s usurpation of their powers and you may see the Supreme Court ruling on many challenges to what the feds believe are within their sole domain, including immigration. The dems think that immigration is within their domain, but the fact is that long after the ratification of the Constitution, the states were managing immigration as a matter of course. If you check out the Consitution, it refers only to the federal government as having sole power over establishing uniform naturalization polices. This originated from conflicts under the Articles of Confederation and grew from the need to assure that someone who became a citizen of a particular state would also be accepted as a citizen in another state. Under the 10th Amendment, the power to manage immigration remained to the states. Unless the Constitution states that the immigration is the sole province of the feds, the states are as free to write their own laws. While you might argue the logic for uniformity, each state could have its own statutes governing immigration and the feds could do nothing about it. The time is coming for the challenge.

  8. Phyllis said:

    I have a spouse who is in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit, the sad thing about it is that he took a dna plus a dvd tape was presented in court to the judge showing him on the tape on the date and time in question,there was no dna or evidence of sexual assult on the alledge person.This is what the system do when you have all the proor showing your innocence, they put you prison.

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