Peter Blair | July 7, 2016 | Defense
The Innocence Project is a non-profit legal organization that is committed to helping wrongly convicted people become exonerated with the help of DNA testing. Somebody becomes exonerated if they were initially convicted of a crime and were later declared innocent or pardoned for said crime. The problem is, The Innocence Project understands how difficult it may be to have new DNA evidence discovered after a trial has already taken place, though it is not impossible. Part of the reason why many people run into issues is because of the way the traditional appeals process is set up. For instance, it is not uncommon for an innocent person to exhaust all possible appeals without being allowed access to the DNA evidence in a case. All 50 states have post-conviction DNA testing access statutes; however, sometimes this is swept under the rug unfairly.
The Innocence Project works to protect. It was created in 1992 by two men named Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck who were at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in New York at the time. They created the project as a way to exonerate people by use of post conviction DNA where DNA from the crime scene is tested against the accused’s. Physical evidence from a crime can be kept for many years, which means that exoneration may be possible in many cases. If there is DNA evidence included in this “kept” evidence, it could be used to prove that somebody did not actually commit the crime. If the DNA ends up matching another person in the database known as CODIS, then the real criminal can be caught. The Innocence Project has worked amazingly, as they have helped 173 prisoners become exonerated between the years 1992 to 2006.
Those Convicted of a Capital Offense
What is a capital offense? This is a very serious and violent crime, sometimes even murder, that is treated so seriously that death may be considered an option for punishment. There is always a danger to be taken seriously that a prisoner may actually be innocent but will be found guilty of one of these crimes and lose their life as a result. A total of 69 people have actually been released from death row since 1973 after they were found to be innocent for suspected crimes. If somebody has been tried for a charge that could end in capital punishment, they may push for DNA testing. Those who are convicted for one of these offenses should always have the option to use all evidence, including DNA.
There are many fears that somebody will be executed for a crime that they did not commit. Such was the case with a man who was executed in 1992. In 2005, many years later, a governor ordered testing on a sample from 24 years earlier to determine whether or not a man, Roger Keith Coleman, had actually murdered his sister-in-law in 1981. Lawyers believed that the examiner involved in the case might have actually misinterpreted the results. The results confirmed that Coleman was the killer and the other man was wrongfully punished through death years earlier. Increased use of DNA became an important aspect from there on out and is still important today. This is just part of the complicated process of DNA exoneration, so call an experienced attorney today for more information if you believe you have a case.