Innocence Project clients Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer were freed last month after DNA proved that they were convicted of murders they didn’t commit. Their cases have sparked a thorough review of forensic testing in Mississippi, and lawmakers this week are calling for significant changes to ensure that more innocent people are not convicted in the state.
State Attorney General Jim Hood said a key way to prevent wrongful convictions is to upgrade how Mississippi processes DNA evidence.
“Some of it may cost money, but it keeps innocent people from going to the penitentiary, and we will put a whole lot more people in the pen that have committed crimes if we had a DNA lab that tested every sample that we pulled,” Hood said.
“These cases are an urgent call for a thorough review of how crime-scene evidence gets analyzed and makes it into Mississippi courtrooms and how we can make sure only the most credible, objective, reliable science is used in criminal cases,” (Innocence Project Co-Director Peter) Neufeld said in a statement issued by the Innocence Project.
Hood agreed such improvements are needed – with upgrading the state crime lab and state coroner's office being the most important steps to take.
“As far as a review of our criminal justice system, there's always room for error with humans. And there's always room for re-evaluations of how we do it. But there are nut-and-bolts things…like fully funding our crime lab and medical examiner's office,” he said.
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. (Commercial Dispatch, 03/01/08)