A state senator wants DNA testing to connect convicted criminals to their crimes before they are executed.
In Florida, 24 inmates on death row were found innocent thanks to DNA testing.
Now Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda wants the test to be a requirement for all death row sentences.
“This is just making sure that we are not executing innocent people, and I don't think there's a decent person in this state, whether they're conservative, liberal or independent, that wants to execute anyone innocent,” said Vasilinda.
Currently, when death row DNA testing is done, it's usually paid for by private groups. Under the proposed bill, the state would pay.
Thanks to years of legal challenges, a death row inmate could wind up costing taxpayers millions of dollars. If they're found to be innocent, that cost would disappear overnight.
Some lawmakers argue the best way to reduce the cost of death row isn't more DNA testing, but speeding up executions. This year, Florida’s GOP-controlled legislature passed a law to cut short the death row appeals process.
Seth Penalver had his death sentence reversed after a privately-funded DNA test.
“If this bill was actually in effect at the time of my being on death row, I probably wouldn't be here speaking with you,” said Penalver.
Supporters of mandatory DNA testing say their cause is more important than ever.
It’s a cause that's made it all the way to the Capitol, with life or death consequences.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court ended a moratorium on the death penalty back in 1976, Florida has executed 78 inmates.