Seeking Second Chances without DNAOct 11, 2012
By Sue Russell
The most hopeful scenario possible for an innocent inmates fighting wrongful convictions is when DNA testing of existing evidence might be enough to exonerate them. DNA holds out an unparalleled promise of certainty. As far as evidence goes, it’s the gold standard; solid science. Just last month, a Louisiana man became the 300th inmate in the U.S. exonerated by it.
Yet, DNA evidence plays no role in 90 to 95 percent of criminal convictions and the subsequent innocence claims of inmates in such cases. Often biological evidence simply doesn’t exist. Sometimes it has been badly degraded or has simply vanished. Without DNA’s “aha” moment, judges are even more loath than usual to consider setting aside a conviction. So, what of the wrongfully convicted for whom DNA can never offer a glimmer of hope?
Criminal defense attorney Glenn Garber, who founded the non-profit Exoneration Initiative known as EXI in 2003, calls this the forgotten population “because protestations of innocence from prisoners whose cases lack DNA fall on deaf ears.”
Source: Pacific Standard