OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Oklahoma would no longer be the only state without a program allowing convicted criminals to request DNA testing in their cases under a measure approved by a Senate committee Tuesday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 8-0 for the Postconviction DNA Act, which establishes an application process for certain convicted criminals to request testing of evidence in their case.
Republican Sen. Jim Halligan of Stillwater, who sponsored the measure, said the proposal was the product of negotiations between prosecutors, defense attorneys and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. It still must be approved by the full Senate before returning to the House for consideration.
More than 300 people have been exonerated nationally in the last few decades, including nearly a dozen in Oklahoma, as the result of post-conviction DNA testing of evidence, according to Oklahoma County Chief Public Defender Bob Ravitz, who provided input on the measure.
"When a person is exonerated, that means the real culprit ... has been out there, most of the time victimizing other people," Ravitz said. "That's why everybody is for this bill.