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DNA evidence hasn’t made wrongful convictions a thing of the past

One would hope that a person would never be subjected to being convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. Unfortunately, wrongful convictions sometimes happen. A variety of things could lead to an innocent person being found guilty, including: false confessions, inaccurate eyewitness testimony, unreliable evidence or trial errors.

One thing that can sometimes help with guarding against or challenging wrongful convictions is DNA evidence. Such evidence can sometimes help show that a given innocent person wasn’t the perpetrator.

DNA evidence has come to play a more and more prominent role in criminal proceedings over the years. Some might assume that this trend means that wrongful convictions soon won’t be much of a problem. However, such an assumption could end up being quite wrong. This was the argument a professor who edited a recent book regarding DNA evidence and wrongful convictions made in his answers to questions in a recent article.

Among the reasons the professor gave for why DNA evidence isn’t bringing an end to the problem of wrongful convictions are:

  • Many cases criminal cases lack DNA evidence to test: It is estimated that a large majority of criminal cases lack testable biological evidence. And even in ones where such evidence was present, there are things that could lead to the evidence never being able to be tested, such as the evidence getting destroyed, getting lost or degrading.
  • Many of the root causes of wrongful convictions remain present in the era of DNA evidence, and thus can continue to cause problems in cases, particularly when there isn’t DNA evidence present to provide a safeguard.

The professor also argues that problems with the currently available methods of challenging wrongful convictions also contribute to the continued prevalence of the wrongful conviction problem.

What things do you think should be done here in Wisconsin and the U.S. to try to reduce the occurrence of wrongful convictions?

Now, an important thing to note is that there being no DNA evidence in their case doesn’t mean that a person who was wrongfully convicted has no hope of reversing their conviction. They may still have options for challenging the conviction. While these options may have their challenges and difficulties, they may, if navigated property, provide a route through which a just result can be reached. Skilled criminal appeals lawyers can help individuals who have been wrongfully convicted understand and navigate their appeal options.

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