Senator unveils legislation to reform SBI

RALEIGH Senator Floyd McKissick from Durham basically wants to take the state crime lab out of the SBI.

His bill would leave the lab under the attorney general, but it would be its own independent agency.

It comes in the wake of a series of problems at the crime lab. An investigation last fall showed its agents withheld or distorted evidence in more than 200 cases.

That was punctuated by last year's exoneration of Greg Taylor. Taylor served 17 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, based partly on a former SBI analyst withholding blood tests that could have cleared him.

This would be the second bill this year to address problems at the SBI. The first has already gone to the governor, but that legislation keeps the crime lab within the SBI.

Senator McKissick says they need to go farther.

"Hundreds of innocent people lost their freedom because laws were broken and rights were intentionally trampled at the State Crime Lab," McKissick said. "We cannot right these wrongs, but we can learn lessons and change for the future. By creating an independent State Forensics Lab, we can better insulate this critical agency from undue outside influence, protecting the rights of innocent people while using the latest forensic advances to solve crimes. The state crime lab should concern itself with producing objective science to solve crimes, not pursuing convictions without regard to innocence of guilt."

However, Senator McKissick is a Democrat and this is a Republican legislature.

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