DDC to Perform DNA Testing for Ohio Inmates Claiming Innocence

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DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC) will be providing DNA testing of evidence in up to 30 criminal cases in Ohio for which inmates, parolees or their families have sought post-conviction DNA testing. These cases were identified through a one-year investigation by The Columbus Dispatch in cooperation with the Ohio Innocence Project. The Columbus Dispatch investigative reporting team interviewed inmates, parolees, victims and their families; researched case records; and identified a list of 30 cases that they considered prime candidates for DNA testing.

DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC, http://www.dnacenter.com) will be providing DNA testing of evidence in up to 30 criminal cases in Ohio for which inmates, parolees or their families have sought post-conviction DNA testing.

Together with the Ohio Innocence Project, led by University of Cincinnati law professor Mark Godsey, The Columbus Dispatch investigative reporting team interviewed inmates, parolees, victims and their families; researched case records; and identified a list of 30 cases that they considered prime candidates for DNA testing. Submitted under Ohio Senate Bill 262, which allows inmates to apply for post-conviction DNA testing (with fewer restrictions than the similar Senate Bill 11 of 2003), the 313 case applications were reviewed to determine if there is enough cause to warrant reopening the case, whether or not DNA evidence is still available, and the probability of possible exoneration following DNA testing.

The Dispatch ran a five-day series of news articles entitled "Test of Convictions," which culminates its yearlong investigation into Ohio's criminal justice system -- specifically, the part of the system that allows for testing DNA to uncover wrongful convictions.

According to The Dispatch editor Benjamin J. Marrison, the newspaper's interest was not about getting an inmate out of prison or proving guilt or innocence. Instead, its interest was in examining Ohio's criminal justice system in order to find out if it is flawed, where it is flawed and then hopefully, getting the legislature and the governor to fix the flaws. Their findings were categorized into five daily reports: Day 1: Evidence storage and retention; Day 2: Restrictions of the DNA post-conviction testing laws; Day 3: The effect of post-conviction testing on the victims of the crimes; Day 4: The challenges and legal technicalities that exonerees face, and Day 5: The hope that DNA testing holds for those making credible claims of innocence.

DDC has agreed to provide the DNA testing for these cases free of charge . A typical forensic DNA test, such as a DNA comparison, costs about $1,500 -- and many of the cases are likely to involve several tests or more advanced types of testing.

Dr. Richard Lee, founder of DDC, said, "The ultimate goal of science and technology is to benefit the human race and make our lives better. The spirit of our business is to help people solve their problems, meet their needs."

In an interview with The Dispatch, Dr. Lee reflects on the possibility of an innocent man being sent to jail. "A lot of those people sitting in jail right now may be innocent. And it's all about getting to the truth. We should use this (technology) to do some good for the society." He continued, "Sometimes I look at it as a double jeopardy. If someone were to be raped and then someone is in jail, if that person is not the right person, the rapist is still out there committing crime. The innocent person sitting in jail is a victim; but there are other potential victims, so you need to get the right guy."

Gov. Ted Strickland (Ohio, Dem.) echoed this thought in his response published in the Dispatch article. "It's not honoring the victim to take the chance that an innocent person is paying the price for victimizing them, because the flip side of the coin is that means the guilty party has escaped justice," he said. "Society is not protected nor safer if an innocent person is convicted of a crime they didn't commit. It is an insult to our sense of justice if the guilty person has gotten off scot-free. It is in society's interest that no innocent person is convicted wrongly. The crime is compounded if an innocent person is convicted of a crime they did not commit," he added.

In response to the DDC's offer to provide DNA testing, Strickland expressed his appreciation and stated, "I can see no justification for any interference in these cases ... What we all should be wanting is justice. If these 30 cases result in even one exoneration, that will be a compelling reason for us taking action to (improve) our current approach. I feel passionate about this issue. No innocent person should ever be incarcerated."

About DDC
DNA Diagnostics Center (http://www.dnacenter.com) is the world's largest provider of private paternity tests. Since 1995, DDC has performed hundreds of thousands of genetic tests for clients around the world. DDC offers comprehensive DNA testing services in several specialty areas: family relationship testing, forensics and veterinary DNA testing. As the leading force in the private DNA testing industry, DDC was one of the first to adopt robotics technology in its laboratory processes for stringent and efficient handling of DNA samples. DDC's unique Dual Process™ ensures results of unmatched quality and reliability.

DDC's quality DNA testing services are nationally and internationally recognized by a number of professional accrediting organizations such as ACLASS (for ISO/IEC-17025), the AABB, the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors--Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB-International), and the College of American Pathologists (CAP).

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