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The Innocence Protection Act
By Kyle O'Dowd
As highlighted in Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s article, the Innocence Protection Act (IPA) is the leading federal bill addressing systemic failures to comply with Gideon and its progeny. Comprised of widely endorsed reforms that would reduce the risk of wrongful convictions and executions, the IPA has gathered considerable momentum since it was first introduced in 2000. Indeed, as the list of exonerated persons grows, so does the bipartisan list of IPA cosponsors: at the close of the 107th Congress in November, the bill was supported by 32 Senators and 250 Representatives. In addition, the bill has won support from a wide array of national organizations as well as crime victims and former and current prosecutors; NACDL was an early supporter of the IPA.
Assuring reasonable access to post-conviction DNA testing is one goal, but the bill’s key provisions are designed to prevent wrongful convictions in the first place. As numerous studies and exonerations demonstrate, competent counsel is t
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