Paper’s Probe Finds Disarray in Crime Evidence Vaults


Authorities across the country have lost, mishandled or destroyed tens of thousands of DNA samples since genetic fingerprinting revolutionized crime solving 20 years ago, reports the Denver Post in a series of articles. In a country whose prime-time TV lineup glorifies DNA forensics, many real-life evidence vaults are underfunded and mismanaged, struggling to keep up with technological advances and lagging behind most corner groceries in the way they track valuable crime-scene items.

In the series, “Trashing the Truth,” the Post says even the best-intentioned clerks commonly toss DNA samples, especially from old cases, in what one expert calls the “sledge-o-matic approach to clearing out evidence rooms.” The paper examined purges in 10 states and found that authorities destroyed biological evidence in nearly 6,000 rape and murder cases during the past decade, rendering them virtually unsolvable. Over the past three decades, the loss or destruction of DNA evidence in 28 states has undermined efforts by at least 141 prisoners to prove their innocence.


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