Trashing the truth: Denver Post examines evidence preservation


In a major four-part series this week in the Denver Post, reporters investigate the state of evidence preservation nationwide and the ramifications of the sometimes-illegal, sometimes-accidental destruction of thousands of biological samples in cases where DNA testing could prove innocence or confirm guilt.

Today’s article, the second of four parts, follows a trail of destroyed evidence and inconsistent policies around the United States and considers needed reforms.

Authorities across the country have lost, mishandled or destroyed tens of thousands of DNA samples since genetic fingerprinting revolutionized crime solving 20 years ago.

Evidence from cold cases goes misplaced across Colorado.

Delicate traces of human biology sit stuffed into pizza and fried-chicken boxes in rat-infested New Orleans evidence vaults.

And specimens are dumped by the truckload in Los Angeles, Houston and New York – sometimes soon after high-profile exonerations.

In a country whose prime-time TV lineup glorifies DNA forensics, many real-life evidence vaults are underfunded and mismanaged, struggling to keep up with technological advances and lagging behind most corner groceries in the way they track valuable crime-scene items.

Read the full articles, watch video clips and more, at

. (7/23/07)

Read more about evidence preservation in our

Fix the System section


The Denver Post also reported last week on the case of Timothy Masters, who was convicted in 1999 of a murder he says he didn’t commit.

Read more in our previous blog post.

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