Experts say Ohio now has some of the best laws in the country to protect the innocent from wrongful convictions and put the right people behind bars, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Gov. Ted Strickland signed a bill that sets statewide standards for retaining biological evidence, requires the taking of DNA from anyone arrested on a felony charge and requires new procedures for suspect lineups. The bill was introduced after a Dispatch investigation in 2008 exposed widespread shortcomings in Ohio’s DNA law, including the derailing of prisoner DNA tests by systemic indifference or hostility.
“Ohio is truly the national leader on innocence reforms and will be the role model other states look to as they contemplate similar measures in the coming years,” said Mark Godsey, director of the Innocence Project. In addition to requiring that DNA samples be taken from anyone convicted of a felony after July 1, 2011, the new law requires law-enforcement agencies to retain biological evidence for up to 30 years in murder and sexual-assault cases; opens DNA testing to parolees and those on the sex-offender registry; mandates blind suspect lineups, and provides an incentive for law-enforcement officials to record interrogations.