DNA Felon Databanks Help Solve Memphis Murders


A man is set to be tried in Memphis for a 9-year-old homicide thanks to a legal tool that has been on the books for 10 years in Tennessee and is now beginning to pay off huge dividends, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. A 1998 state law requiring convicted felons to give DNA samples after conviction, often when they apply for parole, keeps the wheels of justice in many cases. “DNA analysis takes a while, and rightfully so,” said Memphis Deputy Police Chief Joseph Scott.

The tool allows agencies to solve the unsolvable, when there’s no other connection between victim and attacker — no fingerprints, no witnesses, no information at all. Memphis police have recently solved at least four brutal murders based on prisoner DNA samples. Attorney Barry Scheck, co-founder of The Innocence Project, which has helped free more than 100 wrongly convicted prisoners using DNA, said he supports such databanks. “As long as they are convicted, we strongly support the use of DNA databanks,” he said. “It can exonerate the innocent [] but also identifies the guilty.”

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