Conviction investigation with exonerations

The use of DNA profiling has become a routine due to its promise that infallible proof and precision will prevail in criminal investigations. Forensic DNA analysis has been promoted by the desire to address the many unresolved disputes pertaining to decision making within the judicial sector. Since the National Council Committee dealing with DNA forensic in United States and the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice in United Kingdom, the views have consistently been expressed pertaining to the level of precision through which forensic information can be relied on.

Comprehensive resolutions have been reached at by the two commissions, with each confirming that DNA profiling would introduce better scientific objectivity, which would aid investigative and prosecutorial proceedings (US Department of Justice, 2000). In the US however, specific recommendations have been made to prosecutors, judges and the entire defense council, about how cases pertaining appeals with substantiated DNA evidence should be handled and implemented, as well as improving the existing Acts to avail the required facilities up to the prison level (Reilly, 2001).

Post-conviction analysis to ascertain fairness and truthfulness has been a welcomed move as indicated by US national Institute of Justice in its findings which traced 28 post-conviction exonerations before the end of 1996 (Connors, Lundregan, Miller and Mc Ewan, 1996). Currently, several states have formulated specific legal procedures which guide post-conviction testing by providing assistance in terms of retention of forensic information in case an appeal is made on a previously decided case; availability of adequate analysis facilities have been made possible to prisoners especially those facing terminal sentences such as death.

The availability of testing resources follows the desire to pursue exoneration (www. dnaresource. com). Diverse research programs as well as government agencies such as national Institute of Justice have committed resources towards post-conviction analysis enabling this practice to become legitimate. Advancement of DNA Testing The advancement of DNA testing has proliferated over the last twenty years, a situation which has facilitated and also de-credited the recognition of forensic technology in solving criminal cases.

In the past, forensic department were incapable of identifying a perpetrator with severe discrimination. The application of conventional analysis of serum within blood groups was practiced in cases involving sexual assault in the 1980s. The procedure behind was viable and the conclusions were based on well researched and technological databases which sought to identify the frequencies of A, B, and O blood groups. Serum analysis was able to trace or exclude a person from a large population using the blood groups analysis with greater specificity.

The dramatic advancement of forensic science arose in 1989 when Gary Dotson was exonerated through post-conviction testing of DNA in United States. Dotson had been convicted by a jury in 1979 and had been sentenced to 25-50 years on rape charges (Webb and Chapian, 1985). A DNA test conducted in 1988 after Dotson was denied a pardon by the Governor of Illinois despite the revelation by the victim that the story had been fabricated to conceal a sexual relationship with her boyfriend (Connors et al, 1996). The application for forensic analysis through polymerase (PCR) technology was done by Edward Blake.

The DNA results revealed that Dotson did not contribute the male genes, but the lady’s boyfriend did (People of the state of Illinois v. Gary E. Dotson, 1985). It is from these findings that Dotson was acquitted (Connors et al, 1996). Blake also revealed that the testimony given by the state during the trial was defective. According to the testimony, the two men possessed the same blood type, which was only shared by the minority of the Caucasians i. e. 11%. The defect with this testimony was not as a result of poor testing methods but was due to faulty testimonies given within the courtrooms.