May 05, 2008
The next frontier for innocence

Grits says that now that the number of innocence-related cases for which DNA evidence still exists are rapidly declining, the next frontier may be arson convictions:

[Jeff Blackburn of the Innocence Project of Texas] predicted that beyond DNA cases, which are increasingly few and far between (because most cases have no DNA evidence, and most DNA evidence collected wasn't preserved), arson cases could constitute the next wave of exonerations in Texas. More than 800 people are in Texas prisons over arson convictions, he said, and dozens if not hundreds were convicted based on forensic science that's no longer considered valid.

He goes on to cite an example of a Texas man who was executed on what would now be considered junk science. Give it a read, it's pretty sobering. These cases won't be anywhere near the slamdunk that DNA exonerations have been because of the complexity involved, but they deserve the same level of examination because the underlying problem is the same. We have more and better information now than we did at the time, and that must lead us to question the results we got back then.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 05, 2008 to Crime and Punishment