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Could New Technology Free the Innocent in Minnesota Criminal Cases?

Could New Technology Free the Innocent in Minnesota Criminal Cases?

New DNA technology is helping to exonerate many prisoners who were wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit.

Justice for Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners

Cutting edge DNA technology is responsible for the freedom of many innocent people wrongfully incarcerated in criminal cases. A sophisticated computer program developed by Cybergenetics, a California company, is being used to exonerate prisoners around the world. The program, called TrueAllele, was created by a technician with a medical degree and a PhD in computer science. It uses algorithms to analyze and breakdown small amounts of remaining DNA evidence from crime scenes.

In 2006, TrueAllele DNA technology was first used in a murder investigation which found incriminating evidence under the victim’s fingernails. The FBI lab estimated a 1 in 13,000 chance that the evidence did belong to their prime suspect in the murder case. Since then, the technology has been used in criminal court cases in 14 states to clear wrongfully convicted prisoners, some who served more than 20 years in prison. To date, new DNA technology has freed 367 wrongfully convicted prisoners, of which 41 served time for crimes they did not commit and 21 were on death row awaiting execution.

In a recent highly publicized case, a man was exonerated and freed from prison after serving a 36-year sentence behind bars. In 1982, Archie Williams was convicted of sexual assault and rape and first-degree murder when he was just 22 years old. Although crime scene fingerprints did not match, witnesses did not identify him in two different line ups, and people testified he was at home asleep at the time of the crime, Archie Williams was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

The Innocence Project

With help from The Innocence Project and criminal defense lawyers, wrongfully convicted prisoners have renewed hope of release. The Innocence Project began fighting for Archie Williams in 1995, more than two decades before he was finally released at age 58. New TrueAllele DNA technology provided a method of forensic testing that proved Mr. William’s innocence and released him from prison. 

When the Innocence Project took Archie William’s case, Louisiana did not allow DNA testing for convicted prisoners. Legal issues with state laws, DNA technology, and fingerprint testing prevented his release. The Innocence Project played a major role in implementing new DNA technology and Next Generation Identification, a new type of fingerprint testing system that helped to release hundreds of innocent prisoners.

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