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Oklahoma Legislature mulls changes in criminal justice system

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Oklahoma City, OK - Oklahoma's criminal justice system is in need of reform, according to some state legislators.

Currently, post-conviction DNA testing can be requested by convicts in every state except Oklahoma - and state lawmakers say that needs to change.  House Bill 1068, or the "Postconviction DNA Act," Would allow convicted criminals to ask for additional DNA testing of evidence in certain cases. 

Although Oklahoma does allow for such testing, there is no established application process for the convicts themselves.  Cases would be limited to those convicted of violent felonies or sentenced to 25 years or more, among other criteria.

The bill's author, Rep. Lee Denney, says such a system would be an asset to both criminal and social justice.

"I think as a state, we definitely want to lock up the people that we're scared of, the people that have committed crimes," says Denney, "but if we have people sitting in our state prisons that are actually innocent, we want to move as fast as we can to exonerate them."

The bill passed the house in February, and was unanimously approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier today.

To date, there have 303 people have been exonerated in the U.S., including 11 in Oklahoma and 47 in Texas.

If you'd like to learn more about HB 1068 or DNA exonerations across the state, follow the links attached to this story.

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