The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that it's up to the states to protect inmates' access to DNA evidence.
By refusing to enshrine post-conviction DNA testing as a Constitutional right, the five judges in the majority left the fate of William Osborne squarely in the hands of a lower Alaskan Court. Osborne, who was convicted of rape 15 years ago, had requested DNA testing on a condom found at the scene of his alleged crime. The Alaskan government refused.
In some states, people like Osborne would fare well. Forty-six states have laws that govern inmates' ability to request testing of crime scene DNA after they are convicted. But four states, including Alaska, have no such rules. And even some states that do have laws still limit prisoners' DNA access.
The reasons for denying DNA testing usually center on the price of testing and the harm of clogging the judicial system with frivolous requests. These things are certainly worthy to consider. Yet, I have to wonder, should cost and efficiency trump justice? Shouldn't knowing the perversity and sloppiness of human nature cause us to err on the side of caution?
God explicitly requires us to do justice -- not to save money or time. And He promises dire consequences for those who fail to acquit the innocent.