Friday, January 4, 2008

15th Dallas County Inmate Since 2001 Is Freed by DNA

Charles Chatman was released after nearly 27 years in prison after a DNA sample recently taken from him did not match the profile from a rape victim's vaginal swab of 1981.

read more | digg story

The initial reaction to this story may be that the system is so unreliable that reformation is needed immediately. And that may be the case. One of the interesting twists to this case may be the recognition that this jurisdiction may not be outstanding in terms of wrongful convictions, but is an an exception to the rule because it preserves evidence in cases.

So what is the policy response? Make DNA testing mandatory in more cases? Costly, but obviously needed. What about cases in which DNA evidence is lacking? Several states have revised and improved their standards for eyewitness testimony, which has proven to be extremely unreliable. But what can be done about the integrity of the police and prosecutors?

It seems that confidence in the criminal justice system is declining and that many policy makers and officials are oblivious and indifferent to the damage. If true, why?

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