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S.F. to Offer Free DNA Tests to Some Inmates

August 05, 2000|From Associated Press

San Francisco will become the latest county in the nation to offer free DNA testing to inmates, the district attorney's office announced this week.

The plan would allow certain state prison inmates convicted in San Francisco before 1997 of murder, manslaughter or sexual assault the chance to have their cases reviewed through DNA tests. DNA testing has been used in such cases since 1997.

"Our charge as district attorneys is to not only establish guilt but also innocence," said Darrel Saloman, an aide to Dist. Atty. Terence Hallinan. "It is the right thing to do."

San Francisco becomes the fourth California county to offer DNA testing.

Last week, prosecutors teamed up with public defenders in Orange County to offer DNA tests to inmates whose guilt was called into question after their convictions.

That closely followed an announcement by prosecutors in San Diego that the county would become the first in the nation to provide free DNA testing to inmates who said such evidence would clear them.

And in June, Ventura County prosecutors announced a plan to split the costs for DNA testing with defense attorneys for some inmates who say they were wrongly convicted.

In San Francisco, details of the testing plan--which will cost the city $2,000-$5,000 per person--have yet to be worked out. But it will probably exclude cases in which convictions were based on eyewitness testimony and those in which samples of blood or other human tissue were not available and could not be compared with the convict's genetic material.

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