DNA proves our system is flawed - Judith Davis

To the editor:

This week, Freddie Peacock became the 250th person in the country exonerated through DNA testing, after serving years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. The cases of the 250 DNA exonerees are merely the tip of the iceberg, since DNA testing is possible in just a tiny fraction of cases.

These exonerations show us how the criminal justice system is flawed, and how it can be fixed. Wrongful convictions have been overturned through DNA testing in 33 states, but countless innocent people remain behind bars in the United States today.

Three-quarters of the wrongful convictions overturned by DNA involved eyewitness misidentification; half relied on faulty forensic science; and a quarter involved false confessions or admissions. All of these errors can, and must, be prevented.

For each of the main causes of wrongful convictions, there are straightforward reforms for our justice system that local, state and federal policymakers can implement.

Wrongful convictions can happen anywhere, at any time, to any of us. And when the wrong person is convicted, the true perpetrator of a crime remains free. For our public safety and the integrity of a system built in our name, we must act now to pass reforms proven to prevent wrongful convictions.

Once new laws are in place, we need to make sure they are being enforced properly. For concrete steps on what you can do to help address the problem in our state, visit the Innocence Project's web site at http://www.innocenceproject.org.