(Page 2 of 2)
One recommendation, for example, was that the police officers administering photo or in-person lineups be unaware of the actual identity of the suspect, to prevent them from giving an eyewitness subtle (or not-so-subtle) clues.
Schwarzenegger vetoed this one, too, arguing that even voluntary state guidelines would get in the way of police departments setting their own lineup policies based on their own "unique local conditions."
Gov. Schwarzenegger's refusal to adopt even these modest criminal justice reforms is perplexing, particularly given the spate of conscience-shocking exonerations and the parade of wrongful convictions across the headlines. There's really nothing we can say to someone who spent a decade in prison or was days from execution for a crime he didn't commit. "Sorry" isn't going to cut it. One would think that the least we could do is put in the proper safeguards to cut down on the chances of it happening again.
Former state Attorney General John Van de Kamp, who chaired the commission, told the San Francisco Chronicle that all three recommendations were "modest bills which were based on the best science and the best practices available."
He added, "once again the power of California's law enforcement agencies to block needed justice reform."
Our criminal justice system is in need of repair. The spate of DNA exonerations has at least opened many Americans' eyes to the very real possibility that we're sending innocent people to prison—and even to death row. But the number of cases in which DNA was found at the scene of a crime was properly preserved, and where testing could establish guilt or innocence, is vanishingly small. DNA testing has exposed the flaws in our system, but those flaws don't exist only in cases where DNA was significant—they also exist in the overwhelming majority of cases where it isn't.
That's why we need to apply the lessons we've learned from DNA exonerations to other cases. And it's why it's regrettable that Gov. Schwarzenegger's won't adopt even modest reforms.
Radley Balko is a senior editor for reason. This article originally apparead at FoxNews.com.