Thursday, February 27, 2014

Radley Balko: How DNA testing has exposed some gaping flaws in the system calling into question traditional assumptions on the value of eyewitness testimony, forensic evidence, confessions and the appeal process. (Must Read. HL);

POST: "How many more are innocent?" by Radley Balko, published by Reason on February 08, 2014; (Radley Balko is a senior editor at Reason magazine.)

SUB-HEADING:  "America's 250th DNA exoneration raises questions about how often we send the wrong person to prison."

GIST: "Whatever the percentage, DNA testing has exposed some gaping flaws in the system, calling into question traditional assumptions on the value of eyewitness testimony, forensic evidence, confessions, and the appeals process. (In several cases in which a defendant was later exonerated by DNA testing, appeals courts not only upheld convictions, but noted the "overwhelming evidence" of the defendants' guilt.) Scalia stated in Marsh that an exoneration "demonstrates not the failure of the system but its success," but it would be naive to believe the same systemic flaws exposed by these exonerations in the small subset of cases for which DNA testing is available don't also exist in the much larger pool of non-DNA cases. Put another way, if we now know because of DNA testing that misconduct by police and prosecutors produced a wrongful conviction in a high-profile murder case, it's probably safe to assume that the same problems led to the wrongful conviction of a number of routine drug suspects over the years, too. The difference is that there's no test to clear those people's names. So these 250 DNA exonerations aren't proof that the system is working. They're a wake-up call that it isn't. Instead of falling back on groups like the Innocence Project to serve as unofficial checks against wrongful convictions, lawmakers, judges, and law enforcement officials should be looking at why there's so much work for these organizations in the first place."
The entire post can be found at:


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