Monday, June 25, 2012

Study: Wrongful conviction rate of sexual assault 'much higher than previously thought'

A national policy group examined the DNA test results in hundreds of old sexual assault and homicide cases. The findings on the sexual assault cases are disturbing.

According to the Virginian-Pilot: "If the scope is narrowed to just the sexual assault convictions, DNA testing eliminated between 8 percent and 15 percent of convicted offenders. The wrongful conviction rate previously had been estimated at 3 percent or less." 

The study was based solely on DNA evidence, which means it did not count wrongful convictions where the defense was consent (e.g., "date rape"). Moreover, in two-thirds of the cases, the samples didn't have enough DNA for testing, and "that may mean the number of false convictions is much higher." and

These numbers are sufficiently disturbing that they should trigger a national dialogue.