Posted: Mar 30, 2015 12:29 PM
In Today’s “Room for Debate” column of the New York Times, Peter Neufeld, co-founder and co-director of the Innocence Project, weighs in on the question, “How can forensic science be made more dependable and professional?” Neufeld says that the first step to making forensics more reliable is to put them through rounds of scientific research, citing the 2009 National Academy of Sciences report on forensic practices, which said that with the exception of DNA, no forensic method has been scientifically proven to be reliable in linking people to crime.
Posted: Mar 27, 2015 06:10 PM
A Thursday article in the Christian Science Monitor examines whether death row exonerees may be having an effect on how the public views capital punishment. Highlighting the cases of Glenn Ford and Debra Milke—both released from death row in the past month—and speaking with Ray Krone, who served time on death row before being cleared by DNA-evidence in 2002, the Monitor examines the struggles that people face once released from death row, and discusses how their cases and lives are potentially causing more skepticism around use of the death penalty in the United States.
Earlier this week, when Milke spoke about being cleared of the 1989 murder of her young son—a wrongful conviction for which she served 22 years on death row in Arizona—she described her exoneration as being bittersweet. Milke’s words may very well reflect the sentiment of others who were once faced with death sentences for crimes that they did not commit and are now trying to navigate life in a society that presents them with an unfair share of uphill battles, among them being a lack of acceptance.
Posted: Mar 26, 2015 05:13 PM
Exoneree Ted Bradford joined members of the Oregon Innocence Project yesterday at the Oregon state capitol to testify in favor of a bill which would expand the availability of DNA testing in the state.
House Bill 3206, sponsored by Democratic Representatives Jennifer Williamson of Portland and Ann Lininger of Lake Oswego, would allow a defendant to seek DNA testing for any relevant crime, not just murder or sex crimes. Under the new law, judges would also be required to put their reasons for denial of testing on the record.
The Oregon District Attorneys Association opposes the bill, saying it would allow for too many old cases to be challenged and would be too costly for the state.
Posted: Mar 25, 2015 06:10 PM
Yesterday, Debra Milke, who was exonerated on Monday of murder in Arizona, spoke out publicly for the first time, according to an ABC News report. Milke, now 51, was falsely convicted in 1990 of hiring two men to murder her four-year-old son, Christopher. Milke spent 22 years on death row.
ABC reports that Milke’s conviction was overturned in 2013 on the basis that prosecutors withheld that a detective who investigated her case had a history of misconduct, including lying under oath and violating suspects’ rights during interrogations. His misconduct led to Milke’s wrongful conviction. In her case, the only evidence used against her was a fabricated confession that Saldate provided—a confession that Milke says she never gave.
Posted: Mar 23, 2015 04:08 PM
Since 2001, there have been nearly 2,000 dispositions in the United States involving children being violently shaken, says a new investigative feature published today in the Washington Post. Of those cases, charges were dropped or dismissed or convictions were overturned in 213 instances when doctors took a closer look at medical records and saw that the children who were said to have been injured or killed by Shaken Baby Syndrome were actually misdiagnosed. The Washington Post explores a number of those cases and why the science behind the syndrome is being questioned by the medical community.
Among the experts interviewed by the Post is Dr. Jonathan Arden, one of the country’s leading forensic pathologists, who made Shaken Baby Syndrome diagnoses in dozens of cases. Around 10 years ago, Arden told the Post, emerging research around the syndrome caused him to question whether the symptoms long associated with intense shaking—among them bleeding on the brain and behind the eyes—could in fact be the consequences of other causes, such as accidents and illnesses. That research and the fact that the theory cannot be scientifically validated with certainty (doctors can’t do experiments on actual babies), led him to stop diagnosing the syndrome.
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