DNA’s Dirty Little Secret

DNA’S DIRTY LITTLE SECRET…. Is DNA evidence, a forensic tool known for exonerating the innocent, being used to put them behind bars? That’s what lawyer and journalist Michael Bobelian argues in the new issue of Washington Monthly.

DNA has a reputation for being virtually foolproof. And, indeed, when fresh DNA evidence is used to confirm guilt of suspects who have been identified though eyewitness testimony or other means, as was traditionally the case, the chances of hitting on the wrong person can be as remote as one in many trillions. But increasingly law enforcement agencies are employing DNA in a new way: to find suspects in cases where the trail has gone cold. In these instances, the chances of accidentally fingering an innocent person can be as high as one in three — a staggering fact that juries weighing such cases are almost never told.

Bobelian’s fascinating piece is online here. Take a look.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.