Federal review stalled after finding forensic errors by FBI lab unit spanned two decades:
These unfortunate cases are the down side of the death penalty.
It appears that an overzealous government agency the FBI, in an effort to solve criminal case quickly, they used a technology “DNA hair testing” that was not yet perfected at the time, resulting in the conviction, executions and deaths of scores of inmates.
The potentially wrong verdicts include as many as 2,600 convictions and 45 death-row cases from the 1980s and 1990s where the FBI used hair samples to test DNA before it was fully developed as a crime solving tool.
U.S. officials began the inquiry after The Washington Post reported two years ago that flawed forensic evidence involving microscopic hair matches might have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people. Most of those defendants never were told of the problems in their cases.
By the time an official probe was launched it is estimated that three defendants were executed and a fourth died on death row in the five years it took officials to reexamine 60 death-row convictions.
Five years to investigate 60 cases. That sure sounds like an average pace for many government employees. If it were their brother on death row they would have completed their investigation in 60 days.
I would logically assume that if the government knew that there may be a flaw in the testing they were doing they would have put all of the death penalty cases on hold for the period. Too logical.
I certainly believe in the death penalty in many cases but there has to be an absolute/positive determination before the person is sent to the gallows.
On the flip side of the coin, since the developmental perfection of DNA has been achieved more than 15 death row inmates lives have been saved by this “marvel of science tool” since 1992 in the United States alone.
Sir Alec Jeffreys is the genius scientist who invented DNA fingerprinting which is one of the most significant finds ever in the scientific field since science studies began. It helped to solve thousands of crimes as well as resolving paternity and immigration disputes.
It is commendable that the Washington Post was “watching the store“ that launched an investigation into the discrepancies of the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies were using. The body count could have been a lot greater.