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NCJ Number: 238816 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Post-Conviction DNA Testing and Wrongful Conviction
Author(s): John Roman Ph.D.; Kelly Walsh Ph.D.; Pamela Lachman; Jennifer Yahner
Corporate Author: The Urban Institute
United States of America
Date Published: June 2012
Page Count: 69
Sponsoring Agency: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
NLECTC Small, Rural, Tribal and Border Regional Ctr
Somerset, KY 42501
The Urban Institute
Washington, DC 20037
Grant Number: 2008F-08165
Sale Source: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: PDF
Dataset: DATASET 1
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This retrospective study, using data from post-conviction DNA analyses, attempts to estimate the rate at which defendants are wrongly convicted on charges of sexual assault and/or homicide, and identify case attributes (i.e. predictors) associated with those wrongful convictions.
Abstract: Only in the past decade has the use of DNA testing to include or eliminate suspects, and exonerate those convicted, in serious crimes become relatively common. Thus, it is possible that some convicted in serious crimes (sexual assault and homicide) would have been eliminated by forensic analysis more discriminating than what was available at the time. This study examined a cohort of serious crime convictions between 1973 and 1987 from Virginia to answer a critical policy question: “What proportion of convicted offenders in serious crimes with retained forensic evidence could be exonerated if that evidence were DNA tested?” The authors first determined whether the results of DNA testing would support exoneration of a convicted defendant, inculpate the defendant, or be insufficient to change the outcome of the case, noting that it is critical to keep in mind that the data collection was largely limited to forensic files, and because of this, it must be assumed that the forensic evidence is sufficiently probative to make such a determination for each conviction. It is possible that other non-forensic facts of the case that are not available may lead to a different conclusion. Additionally, the authors used these data to identify associations between case characteristics and the likelihood that DNA testing would produce determinate results and support exoneration of a convicted defendant. These findings can be used by States to prioritize closed cases for post-conviction DNA analysis. If those attributes include factors that exist today policy recommendations can be made to avoid new wrongful convictions.
Main Term(s): DNA fingerprinting; Wrongful conviction
Index Term(s): Convictions; Evidence; Evidence preservation; Homicide; Murder; NIJ final report; Rape; Sexual assault; Trace evidence
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