On June 26, The State of Texas announced that Patrick Waller had become the 19th person in Dallas county to be to be exonerated of his crimes through the use of forensic DNA testing. Mr. Waller has served almost sixteen years in prison as a result of being wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in 1992. At the time of his arrest, Patrick Waller was 22 and already on probation for a previous drug charge. He was convicted and sentence to life in prison for allegedly being one of two men who raped a women in an abandon Dallas, Texas, building. (more…)
Archive for June, 2008
It’s well known that the trash you throw out may contain personal information that could be used to steal your identity. However, the idea that the trash you discard contains your personal DNA, which could be used as incriminating forensic evidence, is not only new, but also controversial. The Syracuse.com article, “Anything you throw away can be used against you” raises many questions about this contentious topic. (more…)
In recent years, many states have made changes to the laws that govern their DNA collection policies. Most states require convicted felons and some misdemeanor offenders to submit a DNA profile to the federal DNA database called CODIS. After a person’s DNA profile is uploaded to CODIS, it remains there indefinitely so it can be compared to both new and old crimes involving DNA evidence. Offender DNA profiles are continually monitored and compared to new crime scene DNA evidence to make sure that a repeat offense does not occur.
Case backlog is a problem that plagues most state forensic crime labs. These labs, at no fault of their own, are generally under-funded and lack the necessary staff to adequately handle the constant barrage of criminal cases that require forensic analysis. Crimes such as sexual assault can take over a month to analyze and generate a cost of approximately $1,200 to complete. The state of Alabama is just such an example of how mounting backlogs can present an overwhelming challenge for a state crime lab.
The state of Virginia’s review of forensic DNA evidence involved in old criminal cases has ceased while it requests an additional $4.5 million of federal funding. The state’s review of this evidence could help to free some inmates that may have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for serious criminal charges. State lab workers have reviewed 534,000 case files so far and have identified more than 2,100 criminal files that contain forensic evidence. Of these 2,100 cases with evidence to examine, 366 have been sent to an independent forensic DNA lab.