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On Tuesday, State Law Will Allow Prosecutors, Parole Board Access to Suspects' DNA

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Former Observer-er Ann Zimmerman has a piece in The Wall Street Journal today concerning a new state law that takes effect tomorrow -- one that allows Texas prosecutors and parole boards to "see DNA evidence that links a suspect to an old sexual assault, even though the statute of limitations has expired on the case and the suspect was never tried." The rule change brings some comfort to Desirée Wood of Dallas, who was raped 20 years ago and whose attacker wasn't identified until 2008, when the Dallas Police Department's Sexual Assault Cold Case Program, headed by Sgt. Patrick Welsh, ran DNA evidence collected two decades ago and ID'd a convicted burglar in Louisiana who denies the attack.

As Ann writes, "Under the new law, the DNA results will be attached to the man's criminal file maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety," which means it could come up should he ever get in trouble, or land in prison, again. And that has some worried -- chiefly, the American Civil Liberties Union, which says it's "concerned that it could punish suspects without the benefit of due process."

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