DNA testing has now exonerated 200 wrongfully convicted individuals, but it is still not available for every piece of evidence in every case going to trial today. Labs in many states – and the federal government’s FBI lab – are severely backlogged and can’t test all of the evidence sent by police departments.
A Florida official recently suggested
that the state lab only test five pieces of evidence from any given case – limiting the amount of resources the police have for a thorough investigation. In addition to delaying and limiting results, backlogs create a hurried atmosphere in some labs that can lead to mistakes or misconduct.
In an editorial today, the Las Vegas Sun calls for federal funding to end these backlogs today so every defendant is afforded the right to proper forensic testing.
The larger lesson of the Innocence Project is that our system of justice is fallible, and that DNA testing should be readily available for all applicable cases.
Yet a sizable backlog still faces many of the nation's crime labs when it comes to cases of violent crime in which a suspect could be positively identified through DNA testing.
Based on what the Innocence Project has proven, we believe there should be more state and federal funding made available to reduce backlogs to almost zero.
Read the full editorial
. (Las Vegas Sun, 05/01/07)
Read more on crime lab backlogs and lab oversight in our
“Fix the System”
Editorials and columns on the causes of wrongful conviction are appearing all over the country this month, as the nation’s attention is focused on this injustice. Read a selection of national media in our special web section: