Tuesday, June 19, 2012

DNA testing roundup

Here are several items related to DNA testing and innocence that may interest Grits readers:
First, R.I.P., Larry Sims. What a sad story.

Here's a link to the Urban Institute study (pdf) out of Virginia described in the last three items. That study opens up amazing possibilities: Should old sexual assault cases be reviewed more comprehensively to check for false convictions? So far DNA exonerations have occurred in the few instances where defendants persistently sought to prove their innocence over time, often for decades. The Urban Institute study is the first effort I know of to identify false convictions through an objective, external review that isn't specific to a given case. I've not had a chance to read the whole document yet, but from the media coverage it seems something of a breakthrough.

Finally, though Grits doesn't patronize strip clubs, I don't understand what besides misbegotten prudery justifies a specific $5 fee aimed at testing rape kits. Even sources cited by proponents of the fee say that "no study has authoritatively linked alcohol, sexually-oriented-businesses, and the perpetration of sexual violence." Don't punish one narrow category of businesses (and they're still businesses, employing people, generating taxes, etc.) for other people's sins. This, gentle readers, is what taxes are for.


Anonymous said...

What do you have against strip clubs? Don't you know those girls are just trying to pay their way through college? Jeez... Get off your wallet, dude, and show a little support.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"What do you have against strip clubs?"

Mostly the getting out my wallet part. But there are a lot of businesses I choose not to patronize; that doesn't mean others should have to abide by my choices, nor be punished or taxed as a result. If the city wants the backlog tested, they should increase the crime lab budget, plain and simple.

Arcpoint Greenville NC said...

DNA testing should be used in any case possible old or new to prove the case one way or the other. If the chance is available that is. Many people have already been proven innocent after serving many years now that they test old evidence for their DNA.

Lee said...

Give me the budget for HPD and I promise you that I will find the money to test those kits within a month. My first target would be to trim the fat and deadweight in the administration. The question that needs to be asked is who is this person, what do they do all day and why are they receiving this amount of money? There is no person employed by HPD that needs anything higher than a 5 figure salary.

Anonymous said...

GFB said: "The Urban Institute study is the first effort I know of to identify false convictions through an objective, external review that isn't specific to a given case."

There is other work being done along these lines. For several years the folks in Dallas (DA's office and the county lab) have been systematically reviewing sexual assault cases from the 80s and early 90s, to identify cases where there were convictions/plea bargains without supporting DNA testing, and then doing the follow up testing when evidence was available. They presented on this at the Innocence Network's 2009 national meeting in Houston.

Anonymous said...

Arcpoint Greenville NC:

Are you okay as a tax payer with spending $2K-5K to do DNA testing in a consent case (where everyone agrees that sex happened, but one side says there was consent and the other side says there was not consent)?