Jeff Peckman:  The Colorado House bill on Brain Fingerprinting
testing that would have opened to door for innocent prisoners to be
exonerated in Colorado was killed in the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of
7-4. It was an important, and I would add "historic", effort by Rep. Joe Stengel
to take advantage of a proven, cutting-edge technology that can improve justice,
free innocent people and save tax dollars.

The good news is that this
first-in-the-nation bill occurred in Colorado which is still the frontrunner for
having the national Brain Fingerprinting training center. The 6-minute segment
with Dr. Farwell on Good Morning America was shown to the audience and committee
members at the beginning of the hearing. It was clearly impressive and inspired
many intelligent questions.
The testimony by Dr. Lawrence Farwell was
brilliant and he confidently and thoroughly refuted objections by legislators.
Tom Frey, Kevin Johanssen and I, all affiliated with the DaVinci Institute,
added our two minutes worth of testimony as well. Dr. Farwell was very pleased
that such an innovative bill created an opportunity to educate legislators about
the value of Brain Fingerprinting testing. He commented afterwards that it was a
good sign that the main objections by the legislators were that they merely did
not know enough about the technology.
The bad news
is that testimony from those opposing the bill was somewhat misguided and some
comments made by legislators before their vote were
erroneous. The only testimony from the public in
opposition of the bill was from a someone representing an organization related
to cognitively impaired and mentally challenged citizens and from a man who had
brain damage but was remarkably articulate even while struggling to speak.
Unfortunately, their testimony seemed to backfire. Their concern was that people
with such impairments would be unfairly taken advantage of by Brain
Fingerprinting testing and could, as a result, be wrongfully imprisoned.
However, when it was made clear that Brain Fingerprinting testing was voluntary
and that the bill targeted innocent persons already in prison to help them get
exonerated, the opposition’s arguments became moot. Nevertheless, to the extent
that they were effective in causing legislators to vote against the bill, to
that extent they helped to squash the hopes for innocent prisoners with similar
cognitive impairments from using Brain Fingerprinting testing to obtain their
After the hearing, Dr. Farwell was
interviewed by a public radio reporter. Then Sen. Gordon welcomed Dr. Farwell
into his office and spoke favorably about the bill and about the possibility
of introducing a bill for Brain Fingerprinting testing next year if he does not
get elected Secretary of State this year.
Dave Thomas, Executive Director of
the Colorado District Attorney’s Council, attended the hearing as an observer
and thanked us for informing him of the hearing. The chairman of the legislative
committee for the Colorado Police Chief’s Association did not attend but
mentioned to me the day before that they had not had time to view the DVD’s or
come to any conclusion about the value of Brain Fingerprinting testing. But he
said they would monitor the bill.
Several people sent e-mail comments
to the judiciary committee members in support of the bill and we appreciate that
extra effort.
What’s next?
1. At the request of Sen. Gordon I
will contact him after the current session ends.
2. Dr. Farwell will correct the
misunderstanding of key points that some judiciary committee members got from
gleaning information from the Internet. I will send those clarifications to the
task force when they become available.
3. Everyone on the Colorado Brain
Fingerprinting Task Force can feel confident that your colleagues and other of
the various stakeholder groups in law enforcement and corrections will be open
to discussing this technology. They need to be informed and it helps a great
deal when the information comes from people they already respect and trust. It
is important that they realize the value of Brain Fingerprinting testing in both
post-conviction and pre-trial settings.
When the first innocent Colorado
inmate walks out of prison a free man or woman as a result of Brain
Fingerprinting testing, we will all feel very good.
Thank you all for your continued
support and a special thank you to Rep. Joe Stengel for being a champion of more
cost-effective justice and Brain Fingerprinting technology.
Jeff Peckman
Colorado Brain Fingerprinting Task