Using Proof from the Past... Punishing in the Present

Randall County District Attorney James Farren
Randall County District Attorney James Farren

by Kristen Guilfoos
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - A ground breaking new Texas law hopes to help provide justice for local victims of sexual assault.

The law allows prosecutors and parole officers to use DNA evidence to mark a rape suspect's file... Without a court conviction.

The law just went into effect on September 1st, and Texas is the only state to have a law like this on the books. Basically, here's how it works.

Lets say a woman was raped in Amarillo back in 1995... The statue of limitations runs out in 2000, but they do have DNA evidence from the John Doe who attacked her, so it's now on his permanent criminal record, whoever he is.

So when he commits another offense in the future in San Antonio, and he's identified, that DNA evidence can be used in the punishment phase for the second crime.

The jury can take the rape evidence into account and perhaps give him a harsher punishment to make him pay for his past crimes... Something many hope will provide closure for his past victim.

Randall County District Attorney James Farren says, "Even though her case can never be prosecuted and he can never be brought to justice for what happened to her, at least it gives her some feeling that what happened to her was taken into consideration by the jury during the punishment in San Antonio and somehow her experience contributed to the way he's punished for his new offense."