Friday, April 6, 2012

Death Row Exonorees and Post Conviction DNA Testing

Since we have been getting into the issues of the Dale Helmig case I began to wonder about the release rates of  Inmates on Death Row due to new evidence that completely exonerates them from the crime that they have committed.  Misapplication of Justice is one thing that we need to look for as we enter the Criminal Justice field, I have been thinking a lot about this since the two talks that I have heard from Dale and Rich Helmig.  And I even have begun questioning the system.  Most people that are in Prison or Jail really do belong there and need to serve their time to pay back their debt to society, but every now and then we have hiccups and lack of Due Process that allows certain cases to slip through the cracks when they should not have.  This is a very scary thought that an innocent person's life can be taken by means of the system that is supposed to protect us.

Since 1973, 140 people from 26 states have been released from Death Row in light of evidence that clearly shows that they are innocent and have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated.  Florida has the highest number of exonerations  with 23 and surprisingly Illinois comes in second with 20.  Now if you sit back for a second and think about this, that is 43 people that have had their lives ruined in mishaps of justice and that is too many.  I am ashamed that the state I live in is number 2 on this chart, so that means there must be a problem with the way that we are convicting people or it could be something worse.  There is a racial breakdown of the people that have been released from Death Row. 71 have been African-American, 55 have been Caucasian, 12 have been Latino, 2 have been categorized as other.    After looking over these results of exonerations There was another link for Executed but possibly Innocent and there have been 9 people that have been executed since 1989 that could have possibly been innocent.  This is in my opinion the biggest travesty in the field of Criminal Justice, when innocent life is lost due to possibility of innocence.  All of these statistics come from the Death Penalty Information Center or DPIC.

With all that aside there have been new developments in the field of Criminal Justice to try and clear up some of these mishaps.  This is Post Conviction DNA testing, since the field of DNA comparison only keeps advancing and becoming a force of precision we can now use this to the advantage of the inmates that are claiming that they are innocent.  Since DNA has been allowed to be used for exoneration it has help 225 people that were wrongfully convicted get out of jail.  44 states allow the used of Post Conviction DNA testing, I do not know why the other 6 are holding out.  Even though most jurisdictions hold onto the swabs and evidence of that nature a lot do not and remove them after a certain period of time.  Evidence like this should be held onto until the case is complete and the DNA profile should be stored in CODIS (Combined DNA Identification System) for later identification for crimes so a profile and can possibly made to speed up the investigation of crimes that heavily rely on DNA for instances of Murder and Rape.  There are some barriers to the Post Conviction DNA Testing, in order for the testing to be done it relies heavily on the person incarcerated for to apply to have the testing done.  Some states only allow for the DNA testing to be done if there was no DNA testing at the time of the offense.  Other states only allow DNA testing if there is a "Reasonable Probability" that the results can be in favor of the defense.  DNA can be a powerful ally for the Police and for Convicted offenders with the possibility of innocence.  Either way it is putting people behind bars with a higher success rate and with a greater chance of proving beyond a reasonable doubt,  and helping to exonerate people that have been incarcerated wrong fully like in the case of William Dillion:


  1. I agree that yeah, it isn't a good thing to put innocent people behind bars, but I do think that if your attorney is not doing the job to prove you innocent get a new one or just fire them and use a public defender, I think if Dale would of used a public defender in his case he would not of went to prison, his attorney was a JOKE! I do not know if he just got his law degree or what but it seemed to me that this was his first case. I know money can be an issue for most people which I think is horrible, you get told your the one who killed someone and now you have to go off and get a good lawyer so your not stuck behind bars. I just think it is crazy, some people have no money or even people who might be well off might not have cash in hand. I do think that we have had too many innocent people behind bars but I think sometimes theses are the factors which might place some people their.

  2. Good article! The idea of even one person being in prison or on death row or being executed is sickening. With continuous technological advances and breakthroughs it is good to see that some of these wrongs are being righted. Everyone in prison says they are innocent but you know what...sometimes they are actually telling the truth. I couldnt imagine being taken away from the family and friends i love and be placed in prison or worse and not even being guilty of the crime. Its sad that there have actually been executions of innocent people that is not acceptable and if there is any small bit of doubt, they should at least spend life in prison.