New technologies in law enforcement are often mismanaged, with the result being waves of collective fear. The FBI released a report in January about the National DNA Index System (NDIS), which concluded that 166 of nearly 13 million DNA profiles in their database contained errors. As noted by the Innocence Project, there have been “312 post-conviction DNA exonerations in United States history.” One might think 166 seems like a small number compared to 13 million, but some scholars involved in DNA research cast doubt on the numbers completely.
The idea that DNA was a building block of life was first considered by Friedrich Miescher in 1869. Over a century later and after years of study and experimentation, DNA was eventually used to convict a criminal for the first time in 1987. A Florida court found Tommy Lee Andrews guity of rape based on semen samples taken from the victim.
But cases like that of Damon Thibodeaux, a Louisiana man exonerated by DNA evidence after 16 years in prison, cause concern among DNA experts. Thibodeaux was sentenced because he confessed to killing 14-year-old Crystal Champagne, after eight and a half hours of interrogation. He initially denied committing the murder.
Cases like this bring up many questions: How many more cases could be altered by new DNA evidence that we’re not yet aware of? How many people have already died in jail from lack of DNA evidence? How well is DNA evidence being taken care of and preserved that could accomplish those goals?
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