The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Will Matthews, (212) 549-2582 or 2666;

Supreme Court To Hear Case Of Texas Death Row Prisoner Seeking DNA Testing

DNA Evidence Must Be Fully Considered To Avoid Executing Innocent People, Says ACLU


U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to decide whether a Texas death row
prisoner should be allowed to have evidence in his case undergo DNA
testing which could establish his innocence. Henry W. "Hank" Skinner,
convicted of three 1993 murders, believes that he is entitled to DNA
testing under a federal civil rights law.

Among the pieces of evidence that Skinner would
like tested are blood taken from the murder weapons, skin taken from
under the fingernails of one of the victims as well as a rape test from
her that includes semen, and hair and blood found at the scene of the
crime. A number of investigations into the crimes and the alleged
involvement of Skinner, who has maintained his innocence, have sharply
called into question his guilt.

DNA evidence has led to nearly 140 exonerations of death row prisoners during the past three decades.

The following can be attributed to John Holdridge, Director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project:

"It is unconscionable, and at odds with our
shared American values of fairness, due process and justice, that the
state of Texas would seek to execute a man when the evidence in his
case has not been exhaustively tested. The sheer number of death row
exonerations resulting from DNA testing shows that our death penalty
system is fraught with error and systemic injustices. We should do
anything and everything in our power, including conducting DNA testing
of evidence, to ensure that we don't ever execute innocent people."

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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