Is U.S. justice system ignoring DNA evidence in criminal cases?
TV shows and movies make it seem pretty black and white. If a person is guilty of a crime, he goes to jail. If a person is innocent, he leaves the courtroom with a smile on his face and his family by his side. Unfortunately, the real world is not always so simple.
As much as the public might want to believe that only the guilty serve time, there are faults to the U.S. criminal justice system. According to human rights and justice advocates, one fault that could be fixed is the way that DNA evidence is handled in cases such as rape or violent crime, cases that tend to include DNA as available evidence.
The Atlantic reports that it isn’t only complicated for inmates to secure a DNA test that can ultimately prove that they were wrongfully convicted, but those who help them can be reprimanded, too. For example, a 70-year-old woman in an out-of-state situation was fired from her job in the circuit court when she helped an inmate properly fill out paperwork to secure the testing of DNA from his case. The inmate’s innocence was proven. He was freed; the woman who helped him lost her job.
The Innocence Project is a group that fights to help those who claim to be innocent but are still locked up. It believes that DNA should be collected and preserved in criminal cases. It believes DNA should be tested when it could protect a wrong person from being punished for a criminal offense. Do you think those suggestions sound simple enough?
Cases involving DNA are often the most serious such as murder and sexual assault. The sentences for those convicted of violent crimes or sexual offenses are as severe as they come in the U.S. criminal justice system. Getting it wrong when there is likely evidence to help get it right, therefore, is extremely dangerous in these criminal cases. A criminal defense lawyer can help try to ensure that the system gets it right when someone is falsely charged with a crime.
Source: The Atlantice, “What Kind of ‘Justice System’ Refuses to Test DNA Evidence?” Conor Friedersdorf, July 30, 2013