Polimicks

Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch

DNA Exoneration: Sometimes they really are guilty

http://www.kansascity.com/105/story/1128012.html

This article examines the statistical success of The Innocence Project’s DNA testing program. 43% of the inmates who request the DNA testing are exonerated by it. However, the figure many people don’t talk about is the 42% who have their guilt verified by the testing they demand, which they say will prove their innocence. Also, in 15% of requests the DNA testing is inconclusive, or testable samples have not survived.

Now I’ve heard people talking about the “successes” of the Innocence Project, people (mostly men) exonerated and released from prison or granted new trials because of their work. But people forget that the other 42% are successes as well. They are proof that in these cases the system DID work. The cops DID put away the right guy.

No one is exactly sure why guys who must know they are guilty request the testing. Perhaps they convince themselves of their innocence so they can sleep at night. Maybe they really just don’t see anything wrong with what they did. I’m sure there will be some really interesting Psychology theses coming out of these cases in the near future. Let alone concerning these idealistic young law students and their instructors and mentors who believe these guys when they protest their innocence.

But this is just a heads up, even when the DNA doesn’t exonerate the guy, it’s still a success.

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9 comments on “DNA Exoneration: Sometimes they really are guilty

  1. xythen
    April 20, 2009

    I think the ones who ask for the testing even when they are guilty are just trying to game the system. There’s always a chance that the sample that was collected was a stray hair from the gardener or babysitter instead of them. mistakes certainly happen.
    And why not? They have nothing left to lose. It probably relieves the tedium, too.

    Like

    • polimicks
      April 20, 2009

      Some jurisdictions are actually talking about punitive measures against inmates who ask for the testing if they know they are guilty.

      Like

      • zabieru
        April 20, 2009

        The fuck what?
        Are we going to start charging suspects for a trial if they plead not guilty but are convicted, too?

        Like

      • polimicks
        April 20, 2009

        No, they’re talking about people who demand new testing after their conviction, say as part of the Innocence Project, who know that the DNA is not going to exclude them.
        I don’t know that they’re going to be able to pull it off, what with having to prove the guy really DID believe he was guilty, etc…
        This is NOT for DNA testing during the trials.

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      • zabieru
        April 20, 2009

        That’s what I understood you to mean. I think that’s deeply problematic in the same way as punishing someone for demanding a jury trial which resulted in a conviction, or demanding an appeal which did not go in their favor.
        A great deal of the strength of the adversarial system of justice is reliant on the freedom of the defense to attempt any reasonable measure to secure acquittal. This sort of testing serves the same function as an appeal.
        Further, if we consider only tests that had a conclusive result, we find that half of those tested are innocent. I think the price of two DNA tests is a very, very reasonable price to pay in order to get an innocent person released from an unjust sentence. (It’s probably also a lot lower than the cost of incarcerating the exonerated inmate for the remainder of their sentence).

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      • polimicks
        April 20, 2009

        OK, I just wanted to make sure you didn’t think they were doing that with initial trials.
        I’m of two minds, because yes, I want innocent people exonerated, but at the same time, if you know you did it, why the hell are you asking for this test? It’s only going to verify your guilty status?
        I guess part of it is, I feel it takes advantage of some very good-hearted, idealistic people and will turn them cynical and bitter far earlier than need be. Then again, I am talking about law students, and I don’t know anyone whose idealism survives law school. At least not for long.

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      • karjack
        April 21, 2009

        I think one reason why is they are already in a place where they’ve got nothing to lose. As was stated above, there is a slim chance for a mistake in their favor, and slim is better than none at all.
        I don’t think punitive measures should be taken if people who know they’re guilty request DNA testing. While this may not be their intention, they’re helping the system by confirming their guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt. If nothing else, it’s data. But we are a punishment obsessed culture, so I’m not surprised by this.

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      • mojrim
        April 21, 2009

        It would be as Zabieru pointed out. A plea of “not guilty” (and all attendant measures to prove it) is a right of every defendant when faced with the awsome power of the state. Punishing people for demanding any sort of defense would be like adding a charge of “entering a false plea” or some such.

        Like

      • zabieru
        April 21, 2009

        It may be a shitty thing to do, but it’s important that certain shitty acts remain legally protected. And since anyone eligible for this kind of testing has been serving time since before DNA testing was available and must have at least a few years remaining on their sentence (or why bother with the testing now), it’s not like they’re an under-fucked group to begin with, so if we skip fucking them again over this, I think it’ll be okay.

        Like

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This entry was posted on April 20, 2009 by in Uncategorized.

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