Value of DNA Evidence

DNA evidence has identified criminals and solved crimes, and can also exonerate the innocent.

BARTOW, Fla. — James Bain used a cell phone for the first time Thursday, calling his elderly mother to tell her he had been freed after 35 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit.

Mobile devices didn’t exist in 1974, the year he was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping a 9-year-old boy and raping him in a nearby field.

Neither did the sophisticated DNA testing that officials more recently used to determine he could not have been the rapist.

“Nothing can replace the years Jamie has lost,” said Seth Miller, a lawyer for the Florida Innocence Project, which helped Bain win freedom. “Today is a day of renewal.”

A competent defense lawyer might have obtained justice long ago.

Rhode Island is going to have SANE-Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, on call starting this year. We’ll join the rest of the fifty states in starting a program that has potential to reduce crime by putting repeat offenders in jail.

For more information, call Victims of Crime Helpline at 1-800-494-8100.

4 thoughts on “Value of DNA Evidence

  1. And you know, earlier in the year the Roberts court ruled 5-4 that individuals convicted of crimes have no right to insist on DNA tests.

    Whether such a test is done is left to the discretion of the state. The ruling involved the state of Alaska (when the gov was you-know-who) refusing to grant a DNA test that might exonerate the man convicted of the crime.

    What the heck? Evidence, schmevidence.

  2. As is the case with much else in the world, the devil is in the details, and in the case of “DNA” testing as a forensic tool, the annoying facts are that many supposedly “certified” laboratories are less than adequate and frequently wrong in terms of data generated. In most instances, replication is now required by submission of duplicate and even triplicate samples. In some instances, the “results” from laboratories, either implicating or exonerating suspects or those already convicted, were little better than coin tosses. Given the uncertainty of the sampling processes, the laboratories involved, the interpretation of frequently very subtle data sets, “DNA” testing procedures and results are but one link in a chain of inquiry. To rely on one very variable methodology alone not a cure good investigation. Recently, reports were published indicating that “DNA” evidence can actually be created, modified or even duplicated with some rather simple laboratory techniques. This recent series of inquiries are likely to require judicial review and may compromise or modify DNA use in courtrooms.

  3. it’s true that no one should be convicted or exonerated solely on one lab test result. everything has to be taken in context. I think there must have been other evidence pointing to this man’s innocence– too many people are poorly represented in court.
    but DNA is a very valuable tool, and led to the conviction of repeat rapists who were an ongoing threat to the community.

  4. Not only will it put repeat offenders in prison, but for some crimes, it should keep them in prison for much, much longer.

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