Sunday, April 12, 2009
"DNA evidence infallible" poll
Is DNA evidence infallible in criminal justice cases?
Looks like there is room for "doubt". I have seen a number of those CSI television programs where a person's DNA is available within a short period of time to connect an individual with a crime and accused by law enforcement as being the "perp". It interesting to see the eccentric, Goth oriented Abby of NCIS push a few buttons, shake a test tube, and declare who is innocent or guilty with the primary evidence being DNA and minor evidence being assorted forensic goodies. [That's television.] I do not pretend to know the scientific parameters of processing and matching DNA samples but it is merely another tool to be used in criminal justice and is subject to errors. One has to be extremely careful in the methodologies of doing the actual science...certification of a clean laboratory and accepted analysis procedures must be maintained. The laboratory's history was be considered. Technicians must be qualified and periodically reviewed to maintain certification. [I have never seen a defense trial lawyer challenge such things. It is considered a given that all was done correctly...a false assumption.]
The scale of justice has tipped both ways in using DNA: Cold cases have been reopened and a criminal brought to justice and conversely, wrongly accused individuals are set free with a bus ticket, $10, a new Men's Warehouse suit, and a "We are sorry. Have a nice day" farewell statement.
Our judicial system isn't perfect and there will always be errors and bad judgement, but it is paramount to make certain that scientific tools be checked and rechecked--human lives are involved.