Schuster-Globe feature investigation:

Associated Links

"Failing the DNA Test," Michael Blanding and Lindsay Markel, November 20, 2011, The Boston Globe Magazine

WBUR's Radio Boston hosts talk with Schuster Senior Fellow Michael Blanding about DNA testing for prisoners in Massachusetts

WGBH's Phillip Martin discusses the proposed Mass. DNA access law: Part 1 | Part 2

How do wrongful convictions occur?

Journalists' guide: How you can localize the Troy Davis story in your state

About the Justice Brandeis Law Project


We would not have been able to do this story without the help of the following Brandeis student Schuster Institute research assistants:

Alana Abramson
Brian Boyd
Aaron Bray
Emily Dunning
Irina Finkel
Abigail Kagan
Rachel Klein
Ariadne Lyon
Vicky Negus
Joanna Nix
Amelia Rey
Marisa Tashman
Clair Weatherby
Janey Zitomer

DNA Testing Access Law, Prisoners in Massachusetts

Post-conviction DNA
   testing in Massachusetts:
   "Failing the DNA Test" 

NOTE: On February 8, 2012, the Massachusetts House voted unanimously to pass the bill allowing prisoners in the state the right to access DNA testing. Last July, the state Senate passed the bill (S. 1987). 


Nationwide, 280 men and women have walked out of prison after DNA tests proved them innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. Together, they served a combined total of approximately 3,629 years incarcerated.

Many of these exonerations happened because 48 of the 50 United States have laws granting inmates the right to test DNA evidence that might prove their innocence. But the famously progressive state of Massachusetts has not passed a DNA access law. The other state, the more conservative Oklahoma, passed a law, but let its implementing program expire in 2005. 

In Massachusetts, a new DNA access bill that would lighten the load on inmates who face a seemingly impossible procedural battle to clear their names is now before the legislature. It would create a clear process that inmates and their lawyers would follow to access not only the crime scene evidence but also the crime labs to test it. But the bill’s future is uncertain. 

Michael Blanding and Lindsay Markel of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism teamed up with the Boston Globe Magazine to investigate: Why is Massachusetts one of only two states without a DNA access bill, and what does that mean for prisoners who claim that DNA testing will help prove their innocence?

Just as important, what does it mean for the citizens of Massachusetts if the real bad guys are still out there committing more crimes?

For the conclusions of the Schuster-Globe investigation, read the article: “Failing the Test,” November 20, 2011, The Boston Globe Magazine.

Examine the issue. This website is intended as a reading guide to "Failing the Test." It offers a more detailed look at the issue of post-conviction DNA testing in Massachusetts. 

Last page update: February 10, 2012

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