For Immediate Release
February 3, 2005
Fact Sheet: Ensuring Justice and Fairness for All Americans
An important part of the American character is our system of
justice, and we have a solemn obligation to make sure that cases
involving the death penalty have been handled in full accordance
with all the guarantees of our Constitution. The foundations of
America's democracy depend on the assurance of fairness in our
The President is committed to ensuring justice and fairness in
America's legal system by providing full funding for the use of
DNA evidence to solve crime and prevent wrongful convictions, and
additional training for defense counsel to help ensure people on
trial for their lives have competent attorneys at their side.
Additional training will also help ensure prosecutors and judges
have skills they need to ensure a fair trial.
Background on Presidential Action
American unity is strengthened by our confident belief in a fair
and accurate legal system.
- DNA technology can be vital in ensuring accuracy and fairness
in the criminal justice system. DNA can be used to identify
criminals with incredible accuracy when biological evidence
exists, and DNA can be used to clear suspects and exonerate
persons mistakenly accused or convicted of crimes.
- DNA backlogs overwhelm many public crime labs, and these labs
need help automating equipment to handle the increasing influx
of DNA samples and evidence and to prevent future backlogs.
The problems of backlogs and the lack of up-to-date technology
can result in significant delays in the administration of
- More research is needed to develop faster, less
expensive methods for analyzing DNA evidence; and
- More training is needed for professionals in the criminal justice
system to ensure the optimal use of DNA evidence to solve
crimes and assist victims.
- Individuals on trial for their
lives deserve competent attorneys. In addition to the Federal
government, 38 states have death penalty laws. In 2003, 144
offenders received the death sentence in the United States.
The integrity of the legal system requires that defendants have
The President is committed to ensuring fairness and justice for
all Americans in our legal system.
President Bush urged Congress to fully fund his DNA Initiative
to solve crime and protect the innocent from wrongful
conviction through elimination of existing backlogs of DNA
samples, strengthening lab capacity, expanding testing for
convicted offenders, training for law enforcement and attorneys
on the use of DNA, and using DNA to identify missing persons
and bring closure to victims. As part of the President's
five-year, $1 billion DNA Initiative, the President's FY 2006
budget supports $236 million in Federal funding. These reforms
benefit victims and the accused by identifying the guilty and
exonerating the innocent.
- President Bush's new proposal will provide additional training
for defense counsel, prosecutors, and judges for state capital
cases to help ensure they are adequately trained to handle
capital trials. The President proposed $50 million over three
years, including $20 million in FY 2006, for training private
defense counsel and public defenders, state and local
prosecutors, and state judges to help ensure the competence and
effectiveness of all participants connected with the trial of
state capital cases. In addition, once trained, the lawyers
who have undergone the training can serve as advisors to other
lawyers in particular cases.
# # #