DNA Isn’t Infallible

You’ve all watched the shows, right? A crime is committed. The cops know who did it but can prove nothing. DNA evidence is rushed through and proves beyond all doubt that the perp is guilty. Well, apparently, this evidence is not quite as reliable as we have been led to believe.

I know, shocking right?

In actual fact, it isn’t the DNA itself that is the problem, but the way it is processed. Though that is a fine distinction if you are the body sent to prison based on said evidence.

The Texas Forensic Science Commission, the body that sets the standards for State evidence has recently concluded that there is a problem with how DNA evidence is being analyzed. Apparently, labs have been using outdated protocols to analyze samples, drastically reducing the reliability of the results. This may affect thousands of cases dating all the way back to 1999.

We aren’t talking about minor differences here, either. According to the article below, samples that previously returned a result of one in a million, are now reduced to one in thirty or forty under the newer protocol. That is a major difference, folks, and not a result that I would like to use as the sole reason for a conviction.

This is just one more item in a string of ‘cutting edge’ technologies that were all considered infallible, unbeatable evidence in their time. Eyewitness testimony, fingerprints, hair analysis, bite marks, even video and photographic evidence – all were once considered the deal breaker in criminal cases and all are now recognized as being unreliable.

I think it is time that the court systems of the world caught up with the scientists and recognize that there is no such thing as an infallible science or technology. There is no one piece of evidence that will prove, beyond a doubt, that a person is guilty. In my opinion, burden of proof requires that multiple forms of evidence need to be presented to prove guilt. Nobody should be allowed to be convicted on a single piece of evidence, no matter how reliable the results are considered to be at the time.

It is the job of law enforcement officers to collect as much evidence as possible. It is the job of the court system to present said evidence to a jury in a concise and understandable manner. It is the job of the jury to compare all the available evidence and come to a conclusion of the accused’s guilt or innocence.

It is time everybody started to do their jobs instead of relying on ‘new’ and ‘cutting edge’ technologies to do it for them. Because there is no such thing as infallible science and even if someone invented a time machine that allows police to be at the scene of a crime while it is being committed, someone else will invent a way to fool it.

via ‘Great Pause’ Among Prosecutors As DNA Proves Fallible : NPR.

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