Wrongful convictions are a serious problem in our current criminal justice system. In fact, according to the National Registry of Exonerations, there have been more than 2,000 exonerations since 1989 in the U.S. — with 248 in New York alone.
While there are many possible explanations for these wrongful convictions, a recent report by the Associated Press examined one of the most important: flawed forensic evidence that is used at trial to obtain convictions.
Flawed forensic evidence: Why is it still a problem?
The National Registry of Exonerations has found that bad forensic evidence was involved in roughly one-quarter of all exonerations since 1989. Given how big of an issue this is, one would think that it would be fixed by now — but it hasn’t been.
Indeed, the recent AP report noted that judges nationwide continue to admit forensic evidence based on science that was once considered sound, but has now been shown to be questionable at best. According to some, courts simply aren’t evolving with science.
For instance, in the AP report, Christopher Fabricant, the director of strategic litigation for the Innocence project, was quoted as saying, “Courts — unlike scientists — rely too heavily on precedent and not enough on the progress of science. At some point, we have to acknowledge that precedent has to be overruled by scientific reality.”
If nothing changes, however, the unfortunate reality is that flawed evidence will continue to be used to wrongfully convict individuals for crimes they did not commit — and this is something we should no longer tolerate.