States and crime victims are using DNA evidence that links parole candidates to crimes for which they were never prosecuted in a strategy to block early release from prison, USA Today reports. Of the 44 states that responded to a survey survey by the newspaper, 12 say they review such evidence or would have authority to review the material if it were provided. Authorities and victims have informally submitted the DNA evidence to parole boards, aided by databases that show whether the subjects of DNA matches are in prison for other crimes. The strategy has been in use for several years but appears to be spreading as DNA databases improve.
The moves are raising questions about the fairness of relying on new, incriminating information in parole hearings. Inmates often do not have lawyers, and there are no uniform rules allowing them to challenge the DNA matches. “The inmate isn’t allowed to do all the things he could do in a trial,” says John Wesley Hall, president-elect of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.