Thursday, February 14, 2013

'Where's your evidence?'

The Austin Chronicle's Jordan Smith has a crackerjack, must-read story with the same title as this post on problems at police evidence rooms across the state and the implications for both the guilty and the innocent. So much good stuff there I won't bother excerpting, just go read the whole thing.

See related Grits posts:


Anonymous said...

How much can Texas REALLY expect from forensic agencies responsible for handling and storing evidence that also make the following callously indifferent statements,

"...Smears [from rape kits] are not processed in a way that is intended to preserve them for later DNA testing. As an illustration, smears are fixed and stained using various solutions. However, none of these solutions are subjected to QC testing to determine if they are contaminated with human DNA...
...following analysis, smears are not stored in the freezer in a way that would maintain their testability using DNA analysis methods. They are stored at ambient temperature, where it is known that the DNA will ultimately degrade and become untestable...
...In the case of the smears, they are retained and not discarded because they are a stable record of the test result - they can be reexamined microscopically at a later time. They are not retained because they are suitable for DNA testing..."

Except that they can be, and are.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. If the evidence has been analyzed, there should be documentation of the analysis, and the evidence should be returned to the owner.
Are PDs seizing evidence, NOT analyzing it, and keeping it? If it is a large item, swab it and store the swabs. No need for the PD to hold onto large, bulky items.

And can anyone explain what "to secure convictions" means? Do appeals require re-analysis of evidence? I think not.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Do appeals require re-analysis of evidence?"

Sometimes habeas claims do