"Failing the DNA Test," Michael Blanding and Lindsay Markel, November 20, 2011, The Boston Globe Magazine
WBUR's Radio Boston hosts talk with Schuster Senior Fellow Michael Blanding about DNA testing for prisoners in Massachusetts
- Post-conviction DNA testing in Massachusetts: "Failing the Test"
- Waiting for DNA: More about Massachusetts prisoners claiming innocence who are featured in the article
- Exonerated by DNA: Massachusetts wrongful convictions overturned
- Background: A primer on the Massachusetts DNA access bill
- Underlying issue: No law requiring preservation of crime scene evidence
- Digging deeper: What do exonerations teach us about the criminal justice system?
- Non-DNA cases: What happens if there is no DNA to test?
How do wrongful convictions occur?
- Eyewitness misidentification
- Faulty forensics, or bad science
- False confessions
- Informants and
- Bad lawyering or representation in court
- Misconduct by prosecutors or law enforcement
Causes of Wrongful Convictions:
Informants & "Snitches"
Fifteen out of every one hundred wrongful convictions cases that have been overturned by DNA testing methods have involved the testimony of informants, or jailhouse snitches, according to research by the Innocence Project. Informants are frequently given incentives, such as payment or reduced jail sentences, to provide testimony against a defendant, but these incentives are not always shared with the jury. Such testimony is often the central evidence by which innocent persons have been wrongfully convicted.
The interactive graphic above is a joint project between the Innocence Project and Brandon Garrett, author of "Convicting the Innocent."Last page update: November 18, 2011
© 2011 Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA. All rights reserved.