The first exoneration through DNA testing occurred in 1989. Since then, over 280 people in the United States alone have been exonerated by DNA testing after they were convicted of a crime, including a number of individuals who originally pled guilty and almost twenty people on death row. The innocent individuals had served an average of 13 ½ years in prison before exoneration and release.
This past February, Governor Patrick of Massachusetts signed into law S.1987, "an Act providing access to forensic and scientific analysis." Championed by Representative John Fernandes and Senator Cynthia Creem, this vital legislation allows Massachusetts to join the 48 other states that grant their citizens the statutory right to their own DNA to prove their innocence after they have been convicted of a crime, with Oklahoma the lone state remaining.
This new law was the result of diligent efforts over three years by the Massachusetts ACLU, the New England Innocence Project, the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Council for Responsible Genetics, which twice testified before the Massachusetts legislature in support.