Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

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Location: New York City

A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

No DNA for Exonerations

DNA and the Innocence Projects have exposed the Wrongful Conviction Non-DNA situation that is more than likely rampant in our country.

Here is another article in the Times about the problem in part:

So-called innocence projects at Northwestern, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Cincinnati have reported that their non-DNA caseloads have risen. And for almost a year the district attorney in Dallas has been focusing on wrongful-conviction claims that lack DNA evidence.

“All these hundreds of DNA exonerations across the country have demonstrated to anyone who’s paying attention that there are far more innocent people in prison than anybody could imagine,” said James McCloskey, the founder of Centurion Ministries, an innocence project based in New Jersey.

Cases that lack what many call the “magic bullet” of DNA often require cumbersome investigations, including finding and re-interviewing witnesses or poring over thick files to find anything vital that a trial lawyer might have missed. Even when crucial evidence is uncovered — witness recantations or exculpatory statements that were ignored by prosecutors — judges, juries and prosecutors often treat it with skepticism.

One of the most recent successes for Centurion Ministries illustrates the promise and challenges of trying to exonerate a prisoner without DNA evidence.

A state judge in Missouri last August overturned the conviction of a man who had served 23 years for a murder in St. Louis. The judge cited the credibility of the prosecution’s main witness, who had recanted his testimony that the convicted man was the killer.

But the judge’s decision came six years after a panel of federal judges, having considered much of the same evidence, ruled that though it had “a nagging suspicion that the wrong man may have been convicted of capital murder,” it could not overturn the conviction of the man, Darryl Burton, because of numerous procedural impediments. The panel suggested that the state court take another look at the case.

Despite the challenges, a study by Samuel R. Gross, a law professor at the University of Michigan, said that 195 prisoners were exonerated without the help of DNA from 1989 to 2003, with the number spiking from 2000 to 2003.

The New York State Bar Association, in a report issued last month, found that a majority of wrongful convictions it examined in New York were reconciled not because of new DNA evidence but because of mistakes by law enforcement officials, as well as the misidentification of the accused by victims or witnesses.

You need to read the whole thing. Justice delayed is justice denied. Our system delays the adjudication of justice for procedural reasons and therefore denies justice not to mention poor and faulty forensic science. And that is just the least of it. Everyone knows what is wrong but the system refuses to fix it. Is the Prison Industry really that powerful?


Blogger CupOJoe said...

I don't want to go into the full-blown psychological reason for it, and I don't know if this has always been the case, but we love to punish people who can't fight back. We're perfectly happy to let the system beat up on the losers in prison as long as there's a tacit understanding that some of us will be left alone.

Of course it never works out that way. Once you set the precedent that it's OK to beat up on one group of people, everyone else becomes fair play eventually.

When you have a society, even an economy that's predicated on having an "enemy" and punishing them, when one doesn't exist, they will be replaced, or invented.

10:21 AM  

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