Thanks to television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Law & Order, their respective spin-offs, and similar programs, the average person tends to have an unrealistic view of criminal forensics. The limitations of television require such shows to compress months of police work and lab testing into 60 minutes—less if you are not counting commercial breaks. Additionally, the accuracy of the labs on these shows is rarely, if ever, questioned. In reality, however, certain forensic testing processes may not be as accurate as we have been led to believe, including the near-sacred area of DNA testing.
A Troubling Study
In a disturbing study, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology tested the accuracy of 108 separate crime labs, including 105 in the United States and three in Canada. To do so, the team sent the same mixture of DNA to each lab and asked the labs to compare the mixture to DNA taken from three known “suspects.”
The mixture actually contained DNA from just two of the suspects, and most of the labs correctly identified the DNA from those two. However, more than 70 of the testing facilities found that the sample included DNA from the third individual as well. The problem, obviously, is that the third person’s DNA was not part of the mixture. This means that their report would have implicated an innocent person for the crime in a real-world scenario.
No Real Change
Perhaps the most troubling part of the study is that it started in 2005 and continued in 2013 with similar results. In the meantime, prosecutors and juries have relied on DNA matches to convict untold thousands of individuals, many of whom had no relationship to the case whatsoever. As DNA testing technology continues to advance and justice advocates push certain cases, convictions have been overturned. Unfortunately, getting any court to reopen a case in which a conviction has already been handed down is next to impossible.
The Importance of Quality Representation
The sad reality is that many wrongful convictions occur because the defendant did not have the best possible representation. Public defenders provide an invaluable service, but they are often overloaded with cases. As a result, they may not be able to devote the time and attention necessary to build a solid defense.
If you have been charged with any type of crime, contact an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney at Woolf Law Firm, LLC. Our knowledgeable team understands the tricks and techniques that prosecutors will use to secure a conviction, and we will work hard to protect your rights and your freedom. Call 860-290-8690 for a free, confidential consultation today.