McClinton commends action to help the wrongfully convicted

State Rep. Joanna McClinton is applauding today’s House passage of two bills aimed at helping innocent people challenge their wrongful conviction.

“Far too often, we see individuals sent to prison for crimes they didn’t commit,” McClinton, D-Phila., explained. “This bipartisan effort is a major win for criminal justice reform that not only gives people the second chance they deserve but also saves taxpayers in the process.”    

The first piece of legislation (H.B. 2307) would improve the Post-Conviction Relief Act by extending the time a person has to submit new DNA or other types of evidence supporting a claim of innocence from 60 days to within one year it’s made available. It also provides protections for crime victims and witnesses from improper investigative tactics by explicitly requiring investigators to identify themselves along with their reason for contact.   

The other (H.B. 2308) would update Pennsylvania’s current law by making DNA more accessible by:

  • Allowing those who pleaded guilty to be eligible for testing: courts have interpreted current law to bar people who pleaded guilty from accessing post-conviction DNA testing.

  • Removing the supervision requirement to obtain DNA testing post-conviction: currently, a person must be incarcerated, on parole or probation to be eligible.

  • Clarifying that testing is permitted with newer technology: even if DNA testing was previously conducted, additional testing may be granted if new technology could produce substantially more accurate and probative results.

  • Allowing courts to order DNA profiles be uploaded into national and state databases: helps both the wrongfully convicted establish innocence and identify real perpetrators.

McClinton also thanked the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, and the Commonwealth Victim Advocate for their support.