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FBI To Review Use of Forensic Evidence In Thousands of Cases 133

Posted by samzenpus
from the cleaning-up-the-lab dept.
NotSanguine writes in with a story about a review of the forensic evidence in thousands of criminal cases to see if any defendants were wrongly convicted. "The Justice Department and the FBI have launched a review of thousands of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted or deserve a new trial because of flawed forensic evidence, officials said Tuesday. The undertaking is the largest post-conviction review ever done by the FBI. It will include cases conducted by all FBI Laboratory hair and fiber examiners since at least 1985 and may reach earlier if records are available, people familiar with the process said. Such FBI examinations have taken place in federal and local cases across the country, often in violent crimes, such as rape, murder and robbery."
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FBI To Review Use of Forensic Evidence In Thousands of Cases

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  • Recommended Reading (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smpoole7 (1467717) on Sunday July 15, 2012 @10:54AM (#40655691) Homepage

    "The Innocent Man" by John Grisham. It details a case in which a man was wrongfully sentenced to death on bad evidence.

    I'm a good law-and-order conservative when it comes to things like this, but fair is fair. If someone is wrongfully convicted, it needs to be reviewed. In particular, the use of hair samples and other forensic evidence decades ago, before the advent of DNA testing, resulted in quite a few such wrongful convictions.

  • by kasperd (592156) on Sunday July 15, 2012 @02:44PM (#40657117) Homepage Journal

    it's better for the guilty to go free than the innocent to wrongly lose their freedom.

    It's a reasonable principle, but it may be a bit too simplistic. So you'd rather let one guilty go free than have one innocent person convicted. What if it was not just one guilty you had to let go free, but say two, would you still say it was better? How many guilty would have to go free, before it was better to let one innocent person get convicted?

    If the number you answer is high enough, then the logical consequence is to let everybody go free regardless of evidence.

    Is it always better to let one guilty go free, than take away one innocent persons freedom? If you let a likely serial killer go free, he might murder another innocent person. So the choice might be between an innocent person losing his freedom or another innocent person losing her life. That makes the choice look less clear.

    I don't say I have the answers to what is right and what is wrong, but I do have some of the questions.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday July 15, 2012 @05:59PM (#40658479)
    That is not a universally agreed upon number, since it is based on some feminists' expansive definition of the word "rape." The majority of the victims were "verbally coerced," not physically restrained or drugged -- which may be mean, it may be immoral, but to call it "rape" is stretching the definition of a very serious crime. Verbally manipulating someone into having sex, even by abusing a position of power, falls short of the proper and appropriate definition of rape as a crime. Being creepy does not make a man a rapist.

    Feminists have an unfortunate habit of using the word rape to shock people into action. At the time that the Koss study was first published, feminists had been so successful at shocking people into action that we were in the middle of a moral panic, imprisoning thousands of innocent men for child abuse that never happened (and going as far as to accuse some of subjecting children to satanic rituals and other witchcraft). We should be doing everything we can to avoid making that mistake again, not talking about the need to triple our already tyrannically large prison population.

    I'll be the first to say that there are problems with the way many police forces and colleges deal with rape. I have heard stories of women who were never told about a "rape kit," who were advised by people in positions of power to not press charges, who were turned away when they went to the police, who were told to just get on with their lives, etc. That is a problem, and that is a problem that should be addressed. However, we must also be careful in our solutions to that problem: we must ensure that innocent men are not imprisoned as part of the hunt for rapists, we must ensure that there is no confusion about what a man is being accused of when he is accused of rape, and we must ensure that the word rape does not become associated with normal sexual activity.

    I know two women who were raped (one by physical force, one by drugs), and the last thing I want is for people to doubt that they are victims of a serious crime.

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