News 04.17.12

Washington Post Investigates Reliability of Forensic Sciences

A Justice Department task force reviewing shoddy work by the FBI crime lab completed their review in 2004 but never made the results public. The Washington Post reports that the review was extremely limited, though problems were widespread, and that only prosecutors were notified of the results.

 

The lack of notification has prolonged the term of wrongful imprisonment for at least one exonerated person. Donald Gates spent 28 years in prison before DNA testing exonerated him in 2009, though prosecutors knew for 12 years that the forensic findings that contributed to his conviction were flawed.

 

The Post found that while many prosecutors made swift and full disclosures, many others did so incompletely, years late or not at all. The effort was stymied at times by lack of cooperation from some prosecutors and declining interest and resources as time went on.

 

Overall, calls to defense lawyers indicate and records documented that prosecutors disclosed the reviews’ results to defendants in fewer than half of the 250-plus questioned cases.

Read the

full article and watch a video featuring Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld

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Donald Gates

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