Observing the use of DNA evidence in the judicial system during the past 20 years has been exciting for this forensics nerd. The potential for further analysis to narrow an individual’s genome code and separate it from other suspects has grown exponentially. The judicial system has experienced what you might call growing pains–several states have called moratoriums on death penalty cases, while other states have had case reviews if DNA is present but was not eligible for testing when the case was first tried in court. What has since come to pass is a number of people have been exonerated–cleared of the crime they were convicted of–due to the introduction of DNA evidence. In other cases, some individuals remain incarcerated because the DNA proved that person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Or so we thought.
So now what is our less-than-stellar justice system supposed to do since a group of Israeli researchers have reported that DNA can be fabricated? Where does that leave us? I realize that the average criminal isn’t going to bother going to all of the trouble to plant someone else’s DNA at a crime scene, but anything is possible in these troubled times. Our country was making strides in improving the weaknesses in our justice system, yet now we have to defend the one piece of evidence that we wholeheartedly (or rather foolheartedly) believed in, thanks to TV shows like CSI, Forensic Files, Dateline, and 48 Hours Mystery. This new finding brings up so many unanswered questions. Have we been wrong about DNA all along?