Prosecutors Rarely Use DNA to Clear Convicts

(Originally published on 06.14.2012)

An article printed in the Chicago Tribune today exposes more bias in our justice system. In this post-CSI era where DNA evidence is supposedly the be-all, end-all of proving a man’s innocence or guilt, prosecutors are slow to use this evidence to exonerate a wrongfully convicted person. However, the Tribune points out they sure are quick to convict using DNA.


"Nearly a quarter-century into the DNA era, what has been called the gold standard of forensic evidence has fulfilled its promise to help police and prosecutors win convictions. Rare is the case in which DNA evidence, particularly in a rape or a murder, does not send a defendant to prison.

DNA’s potential to free the innocent has been more elusive. That has been especially true in Cook and Lake counties, where prosecutors have opposed requests for DNA testing and then downplayed the results when they excluded their leading suspects or inmates trying to win their freedom."

Peter Neufeld, founder of The Innocence Project which helps clear the wrongfully imprisoned, told the Tribune that most prosecutors generally allow motions for post-conviction DNA testing, but this does not seem to be the case in Chicago where prosecutors say they consider the entire picture, even if that includes a false confession. What are your thoughts on this? Should DNA be all that’s needed to clear — or convict — someone of a crime?

Source: "Prosecutors readily use DNA to convict, but not to clear a convict." Chicago Tribune

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