Important progress – but a long way to go – on evidence preservation


A story on the front page of USA Today details efforts in 25 states to ensure that biological evidence collected from crime scenes is stored by law enforcement agencies for use in future investigations or appeals. But there are still 25 more states to go. In many of these states, there are no guidelines for evidence preservation, and critical crime scene evidence is often lost or destroyed before it can be tested on appeal or used to solve a cold case.

Defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, police officers and the public have shown support for evidence preservation, which helps to solve cold cases and to exonerate the innocent when new technology or information becomes available.

Preserving DNA also has helped secure convictions. "We're becoming more successful in identifying perpetrators in cold cases than we were when we didn't have this technology," says Scott Storey, district attorney in Jefferson County, Colo.

Larry Pozner, former head of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, says states have shown a "shocking" disinterest in keeping DNA: "Innocent inmates are going to die in prison."

Read the full story here and join an active reader discussion

. (USA Today, 08/06/08)

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