Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What Today Means

The national Innocence Project has a short blog post today titled, "A Historic Day and What it Means for Criminal Justice Reform."

Today Barack Obama took the oath of office in Washington, D.C., becoming the 44th President of the United States. The new administration has pledged to tackle our nation’s pressing issues head-on, and preventing wrongful convictions should be a priority for the federal government and states nationwide.

One of their recommendations is a nationwide review of forensic standards. As we have seen in cases like William Dillon's, where fraudulent scientific testimony was given, and in Jimmy Ates', where a review of now-discredited science merited a new trial, expert testimony is often hugely important to a jury's deliberation. For that reason, it is important to make sure that only sound science is heard on the stand.

President Obama promised in his inaugural address to "restore science to its rightful place." While he was speaking specifically about wielding scientific advancements and innovation to solve the problems of healthcare and education in America, the national Innocence Project, and we as well, are hopeful that President Obama is also serious about scrutinizing science to prevent wrongful convictions.

Update 4:28: Sentencing Law and Policy points to the Civil Rights Division of the new White House website, including some of Obama's priorities concerning criminal justice.

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