New York police may improve evidence preservation


Alan Newton spent 21 years in prison in New York after he was convicted in 1984 of a rape he didn’t commit. For 12 of those years, he was asking for DNA testing. He was initially denied access, but as early as 1997, New York Police Department officials told him they weren’t able to locate the evidence for testing. He was told repeatedly that the evidence had been lost or destroyed and was not available for DNA testing. In 2006, the Innocence Project asked for a final search, with the help of a Bronx district attorney, and it was located in the department’s evidence warehouse – in the bin where it should have been all along.

Now, the NYPD is seeking $25 million in funding to build a computerized system to track evidence. A similar effort was derailed in the late 1990s, but the Innocence Project and other advocates of criminal justice reform have insisted that the new system is badly needed to prevent wrongful convictions and facilitate post-conviction DNA testing when an innocent inmate challenges his or her conviction. It is critical that any new system track evidence retroactively, so that old evidence currently in the NYPD’s possession can be located.

Read the full article here.

(New York Daily News, 03/19/08)

Read about the Innocence Project’s efforts to improve evidence preservation nationwide.

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