January 27th, 2010
Dennis Maher was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for committing three rapes in 1983. In 2003, after spending 19 years behind bars, Dennis was freed because DNA tests proved that he was innocent of the crimes. In a recent editorial in The Patriot Ledger, Maher emphasizes the importance of access to DNA testing for inmates with claims of actual innocence. In Maher’s case, it took an extra six years to get the DNA tested because Massachusetts is one of only three states that lack a post-conviction DNA access law. Maher says, “That needs to change this year.”
Maher also refers to a report released by the Boston Bar Association Task Force to Prevent Wrongful Convictions in December 2009, which is entitled “Getting it Right: Improving the Accuracy and Reliability of the Criminal Justice System in Massachusetts.” The Task Force was composed of police, prosecutors, defense attorneys and former judges, including four New England Innocence Project board members. Along with a variety of other recommendations for increasing the accuracy and reliability of the results the criminal justice system produces in Massachusetts, the Task Force calls for the creation of a statute providing defendants with claims of factual innocence with post-conviction access to and testing of forensic evidence and biological material (and for preservation of biological material).
Boston Bar task force report:
Read the report.