“Project Innocence” is an organization in the Salt Lake are that works hard to make sure that innocent people are not found guilty. State Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, says the group gets approximately 300 requests a year and they look at them very carefully, but it’s only about 10 a year that they look at with any depth.
He says something that is proving to be helpful is that DNA testing has become dramatically improved over the last 20 years.
“You’re usually looking at a case that is 20 years old and they may not have realized what DNA was available to test,” Hillyard explains. “Our testing now is much more accurate and much more intensive. They can petition the court and the court can look at it and say, ‘yes, we think DNA ought to be tested.’
“If they do that the state pays the cost, about $1200. If the DNA test comes back positive then they can say ‘sure, that is the guy.'”
Hillyard says it is interesting that, nationally, in about one-third of the cases where they have found it was not the DNA of the one they were testing for, they have been able to find the real suspect.