Reality TV Series On DNA Cases Raises Ethics Issues


A reality TV series on the growing use of DNA evidence to exonerate the wrongly convicted is raising ethical questions before it begins this month, reports USA Today. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, who has assisted in the release of 10 wrongly convicted men since 2007, says the goal of Dallas DNA, scheduled for Investigation Discovery on cable April 28, is to “make justice better by showing the good, the bad and the ugly.” Some analysts say the series could exploit the suffering of victims – including the wrongly convicted – in the name of entertainment.

Rob Warden of Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions said, “I’m delighted with what Craig Watkins has done while in office, but there are ethical obstacles that have to be negotiated very carefully.” Jeff Blackburn of the Innocence Project of Texas, says the show is a vehicle to boost Watkins’ political career. Watkins denies that the series poses ethical risks or that he was motivated by politics. He says the public needs to see how the process works. Investigation Discovery, part of Discovery Communications, focused on Dallas County because it has had more convicts exonerated after DNA testing than any other U.S. county.

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