In a Reuters article today New York-area exoneree Scott Fappiano talked about how DNA helped exonerate him. The Innocence Project and Fappiano fought for years to locate the DNA evidence that could help prove his innocence.
Scott Fappiano spent half his life in prison with rapists and murderers before he got a break. New DNA evidence showed his semen did not match that found on the clothing of a woman he was convicted of raping. After 21 years in jail, he was released last year. He was 44.
“It gave me my life back,” Fappiano said from the same Brooklyn neighbourhood he left for prison in his early twenties. “Without DNA, I would have done 40 years.”
The biological evidence that exonerated Fappiano was not located in a New York Police Department evidence warehouse facility, but at Orchid Cellmark, a private, out-of-state laboratory. If New York had statewide regulations on the preservation and cataloguing of DNA evidence, wrongful convictions like Fappiano’s could be discovered and resolved much sooner. This and other major statewide legislative reforms were introduced in the Legislature in the last session. Innocence Project Policy Director Stephen Saloom discussed the importance of the reform package in today’s article.
Saloom said New York trails several US states on criminal justice reform and needs to tackle witness misidentification, record entire police interrogations and find better ways of collecting and preserving evidence.
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