Tuesday, April 28, 2015

FBI overstated hair match crisis: (13b): (The Emperor's Clothes); Petula Dvorak, of the Washington Post, shows how flawed FBI testimony ruins lives.

COMMENTARY: "Petula Dvorak: Flawed FBI testimony ruins lives," published by the Washington Post on April 28, 2015. (Petula Dvorak writes for The Washington Post.

SUB-HEADING:  "The Justice Department and FBI acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite forensic unit gave flawed testimony against criminal defendants for decades. That ruined people like Thomas Haynesworth, who spent 27 years in prison for rapes he didn't commit."

  • GIST: "In Curly’s world, there’s nothing surprising about the Justice Department and the FBI acknowledging that nearly every examiner in an elite forensic unit gave flawed testimony against criminal defendants for more than 20 years. “Well, yeah, they were lying,” one man said when I asked what they made of the news, which calls into question the work of the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit before 2000. Of 28 examiners, the FBI says 26 of them gave flawed testimony in favor of prosecutors, The Washington Post’s Spencer Hsu wrote. The hundreds of cases being revisited by the government include 32 that ended with death row convictions. The forensic scandal gives real teeth to the long-ignored complaints we hear from the over-prisoned pockets of the country, where generations of people are locked up in the nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world. Make all the jokes you want about everyone in jail saying they’re innocent. Yeah, yeah, they’re all angels in there. And there’s no doubt that plenty of folks on the inside are guilty of all kinds of crimes. But there is growing evidence that wrongful convictions are more common than many people think. Since 1989, we’ve had exonerations in 329 cases based on DNA evidence, entire lifetimes lost because of mistakes bolstered by bias.  Every year we hear stories about these innocent people, trapped in the amber time suck of prison, trying to reintegrate into a world that has changed at light speed and left them behind once they are set free. Hundreds of human years lost — damage that simply cannot be repaired. Imagine being Kirk Odom, who served 22 years in prison and another nine on parole as a registered sex offender after being wrongly convicted of raping a woman on Capitol Hill because of flawed forensic hair analysis. Or Santae Tribble, who did 23 years for a D.C. cabdriver’s murder he did not commit because of a bad informant and an FBI analyst who presented bogus hair analysis. Or the unforgettable case of Thomas Haynesworth, who spent a breathtaking 27 years in prison for rapes he didn’t commit..."


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