News 01.23.09

Friday Roundup: Identification, Videotapes and Crime Labs

In a week that saw

a new U.S. President

take office, criminal justice reform was in the air, from Georgia to Texas and New York to Denver.

Last week that the

Dallas Police Department announced

that it will improve the way it conducts lineups, and

an editorial in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times

urged all police departments in Texas to follow Dallas’ lead and begin using double-blind sequential lineups, which are proven to reduce misidentifications.

As we reported on Wednesday, the organization that trains Georgia’s police officers will be

expanding its identification trainings this year

.

Officials in Suffolk and Nassau Counties in New York have announced that

they will begin videotaping all custodial interrogations in homicide and serious robbery cases

. They will join 15 other counties in the state and more than 500 jurisdictions nationwide that routinely tape interrogations.

In crime lab news, Illinois officials

pledged to cooperate

with each other on reducing the state’s backlog of 1,230 cases awaiting blood tests. And

prosecutors in Colorado support a new bill

aiming to limit the reach of a law passed last year requiring law enforcement agencies to preserve crime scene evidence.

We reported yesterday on appeals by the Innocence Project and Texas attorneys to delay Larry Swearingen’s execution in Texas until proper DNA testing can be conducted. Another death row inmate, Charles Raby, is

seeking a new trial

based on DNA evidence that he says proves his innocence.

Kirk Bloodsworth, who was exonerated in 1993 with the Innocence Project’s help, served eight years behind bars – much of it on death row – for a murder he didn’t commit.

He told an audience at Utah State University this week about the struggle to survive in prison and his life after exoneration

.

A Washington state man spoke out this week about

spending 11 months in jail awaiting trial for a murder he didn’t commit

. Glenn Proctor was misidentified by an eyewitness and arrested for a shooting last January; he waited nearly a year before he was cleared by forensic evidence. His case highlights how lives are disrupted and police investigations derailed by misidentifications, even in cases that never become a wrongful conviction.

The Innocence Project Northwest, based at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, announced this week that it had founded

the new Integrity of Justice Project

with a gift from the RiverStyx Foundation. “The IJP will work to foster a collaborative partnership among prosecutors, law enforcement, defense lawyers, the courts, and others to identify best practices and procedures that can improve the accuracy of determinations of guilt or innocence,” wrote clinical director Deborah Maranville.

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