Forecast: Overturned Convictions To “Grow Exponentially”


It has taken nearly 25 years, but with the assistance of DNA testing, James Giles and three other African-American Texas convicts are proving they are innocent of rape. Today, Giles is expected to clear his name and become the 13th man from Dallas County to prove with genetic testing that he was wrongly imprisoned, says the Los Angeles Times. Giles, 53, who spent 10 years in prison and was paroled in 1993, is seeking to vacate his 1983 conviction. New evidence suggests that another man named James Giles committed the rape. Dallas County prosecutors more than two decades ago knew about the other James Giles, who lived across the street from the victim, but never told Giles’ defense.

Dallas County has had more people exonerated by DNA than all but three states. Texas, which leads the U.S. in convictions overturned by genetic testing, has had 27, Illinois, 26, and New York, 23. California has had nine exonerations. Law enforcement officials predict that the number of overturned convictions will grow exponentially. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, the first African-American elected to the office, has forged an alliance with the Innocence Project, a New York-based group that uses DNA testing to challenge convictions. “The mentality of the office” several decades ago, says Watkins, “was, ‘I don’t care if there is some doubt, let’s make sure we keep up our conviction rate.’ ”


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