Much of the credit for these exonerations goes to teams of reporters, professors, students, and pro bono attorneys who were willing to listen to the claims of innocence from imprisoned defendants and who dedicated hundreds of hours of uncompensated time to proving these men innocent (Gould, 2008)."
In fact, in June of 2009 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that prisoners do not have the right to DNA testing. This ruling came in the wake of a case involving an Alaskan man who was accused of rape and wanted DNA testing performed on materials that were found at the crime scene.
"Four Justices supported the man, William Osborne, but the court's majority said the decision whether to provide access to DNA tests is an issue for legislatures, not courts; 46 states and the Federal Government already mandate at least some access to DNA testing. "To suddenly constitutionalize this area would short-circuit what looks to be a prompt and considered legislative response," wrote Chief Justice John Roberts." (James, 2009)
This ruling indicates that the court has left the treatment of DNA testing for convicts in the hands of legislators and wants the state to decide the fates of those that believe they have been wrongfully convicted.
The authors also report that prosecutors believe that DNA is an extremely powerful tool. However there is also a general consensus from those that work in the field of DNA testing and from the criminal justice system that DNA testing has not yet reached its full potential. With this understood "given the role of the prosecutor in developing patterns of DNA testing and its use in charging, trying, and convicting alleged criminals, it behooves us to learn more about how this technology has been integrated into the daily activities of the nation's 2,800 prosecutors' offices (Prottas and Noble, 2007)."
Indeed there must be a concerted effort to pay greater attention to the ways in which DNA testing can be improved in various locales. It is also important to known which locales have the best and most Accurate DNA testing so that those facilities can become models for other facilities throughout the country. This type of modeling assists in the developing of standards for DNA testing that ensure
The research presented in this investigation indicates that DNA testing will continue to evolve well into the future. Although the Supreme Court ruled against making DNA testing constitutional, it is likely that many states have or will develop laws concerning DNA testing for those that believe that they have been wrongfully convicted.
Conclusions and/or recommendations
The purpose of this discussion was to provide an overview of the history of DNA testing in the criminal justice system. The research indicates that DNA testing was discovered in 1985. The research also revealed the first case of DNA testing occurred in Louisiana and consisted of a DNA dragnet. The investigation also found that the first court case involving DNA testing occurred in 1987.
The research also explored the growth DNA testing and the ways in which DNA testing has evolved over time. According to the investigation DNA testing has grown substantially in the years since its inception. Most prosecutors now use DNA testing as a routine part of an investigation. The investigation also indicates that DNA testing has been used to exonerate many convicted felons. In addition, there has been some question as to whether DNA testing should be a constitutional right given the arrest and conviction mistakes that have occurred in recent years. Although the Supreme Court has rejected this idea, it is possible that the issue will continue to dominate discussions about DNA testing well into the future. Some states have already made some provisions as it pertains to the ability of convicted felons to get DNA testing conducted.
The research also points to a general consensus that has developed in the criminal just community concerning the use of DNA testing. The consensus asserts that there is still a great deal of growth that has to occur in the realm of DNA testing. That is, technology must continue to develop so that results are even more accurate. Additionally, technology must advance to the point where even smaller samples can be utilized in the DNA testing process.
It is recommended that in the future greater efforts be made to perfect the use of DNA testing in terms of the manner in which it is interpreted. I addition the federal government needs to supply funding for jurisdictions that do not have the resources to fully exploit the use of DNA testing in their criminal justice systems. The criminal justice system must make more of a concerted effort to ensure that people who are innocent are not wrongfully convicted. Wrongful convictions hurt society and the individual that is place in jail because of a wrongful condition.
Gould, John B. (2008) Innocence Commission: Preventing Wrongful Convictions and Restoring the Criminal Justice System. New York, NY, USA: NYU Press,
James, Randy. A Brief History of DNA Testing Retrieved November 22 from: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1905706,00.html#ixzz0Xi8Pny1q
Lazer, D.(ed). (2004) DNA and the Criminal Justice System: The Technology of Justice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
McCartney, Carole. (2006) Forensic Identification and Criminal Justice: Forensic Science, Justice and Risk. Uffculme, Devon, GBR: Willan…