Justice is a train that is nearly always late.
September 2, 2010 12:31 AM Subscribe
posted by karminai (13 comments total)
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co-founder Barry Scheck
gave an interview today describing the complexities of DNA evidence
and why it is so pivotal in many appeals. What we hear referred to as "DNA evidence" can really mean any number of things: a restriction fragment length polymorphism
analysis that focuses on enzyme restriction sites; using a polymerase chain reaction
to amplify a segment of DNA; or a short tandem repeat
analysis, looking at small segments of repeated DNA in an individual's genome. These tests, he believes, must be done whenever possible-- because more and more, they are proving people innocent.
Scheck's goal, through the Innocence Project, is to reform the justice system. DNA evidence has already made leaps and bounds in the right direction,
exonerating 258 individuals,
including 17 who spent time on death row.
Many of these false convictions are due to faulty eyewitness testimony.
While compelling, eyewitness testimony is often deemed unreliable, especially when it involves the identification of perpetrators of another race. (Previously)
. This was a contributing factor in the false conviction of Ronald Cotton, who was sentenced to life plus fifty years in prison.
The victim, Jennifer Thompson, purposefully examined the face of her attacker so she might be able to identify him to the police. Ten years later, the man that she identified-- man number 5, Ronald Cotton, was proved innocent. Thompson now advocates against the use of eyewitness testimony as primary evidence
, explaining that even though she was positive Cotton was her attacker, she was wrong
. When he was released, she told him, "Ron, if I spent every second of every minute of every hour for the rest of my life telling you how sorry I am, it wouldn't come close to how my heart feels."