The Justice Department and the FBI have launched a review of thousands of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted or deserve a new trial because of flawed forensic evidence, the Washington Post reports. It is the largest post-conviction review ever done by the FBI, including cases conducted by all FBI Laboratory hair and fiber examiners since at least 1985. Such FBI examinations have taken place in federal and local cases across the U.S., often in violent crimes, such as rape, murder, and robbery.
The review comes after the Post reported in April that Justice Department officials had known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people but had not performed a thorough review of the cases. In addition, prosecutors did not notify defendants or their attorneys in many cases they knew were troubled. “The department and the FBI are in the process of identifying historical cases for review where a microscopic hair examination conducted by the FBI was among the evidence in a case that resulted in a conviction,” spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said. “We have dedicated considerable time and resources to addressing these issues, with the goal of reaching final determinations in the coming months.”