News 03.20.09

Friday Roundup: Seeking A Clean Slate

It was another busy week in the innocence movement – with testimony on forensics before the Senate Judiciary Committee and Mississippi adopting DNA access and evidence preservation laws. Here are some more stories on wrongful convictions and forensic evidence from around the world in the last few days:


Sean Hodgson was freed this week

in England after serving 27 years in prison for a rape and murder DNA now proves he didn’t commit. He petitioned for DNA testing more than a decade ago but was told – falsely – that evidence in his case had been destroyed. Testing on that evidence finally proved his innocence this year.

Two Illinois men who were pardoned in the 1990s after serving years in prison

were dealt a setback in court

this week.

Stanley Howard

and

Dana Holland

were seeking to expunge their records of wrongful convictions, but the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that gubernatorial pardons based on innocence do not automatically clear criminal records. Holland was exonerated by DNA testing in 2003 after serving more than 10 years. Howard was sentenced to death based on a confession he says was coerced through torture. He was cleared based on non-DNA evidence.

The Georgia House of Representatives

approved a bill

today that would compensate

John Jerome White

with more than $700,000 for the years he spent in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate and signed by the Governor before White is compensated. Georgia is one of 25 states without a statewide compensation law; but the legislature has passed bills in recent years compensating individuals.

A story on National Public Radio’s Day to Day this week

explored the fallibility of eyewitness identification evidence

. In a guest post on the Innocence Blog yesterday from Erin Torneo

explored the story behind the new book “Picking Cotton”

and the ripples of injustice still felt 11 years after a wrongful conviction.

And the Los Angeles Times

considers questions raised about fingerprint evidence

by the recent National Academy of Sciences report on forensics.

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