Colorado Governor Jared Polis Friday signed a bill allowing those who have been convicted of a crime access to post-conviction DNA testing. The bill was supported and fully approved by both Houses in February 2023. Moreover, the bill will lower the threshold for individuals to seek DNA testing of evidence to mitigate the criminal justice system error rate.
The bill will take effect in Colorado’s criminal justice system in October 2023. It aims to ensure that all parties are able to air their concerns on the DNA testing method. Also, the bill enables the courts to vacate convictions when they obtain DNA evidence that proves an individual’s innocence. Furthermore, the law ensures that victims’ rights are respected and align with the Victim Rights Act. Nonetheless, the standard of “actual innocence” is not easy to meet. Still, with this law, petitions must only show “reasonable probability” that the individual would not have been found guilty if DNA evidence had been available.
According to the bill, those who were formally or currently in prison, on the sex offender register or on probation are entitled to receive DNA analysis. As some crimes date back to the early 1990s, under this new law, old DNA samples can be retested with new forensic technology.
Many organizations, such as the Korey Wise Innocence Project and the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center support the bill. In response to the bill’s passing, Innocence Project Advocate Bay Scoggin stated that Colorado has “lagged behind” other states in their post-conviction DNA statute.