It was interesting to learn that some departments in the United States had not submitted their sexual assault kits (SAKs) to forensic labs for testing. Upon further investigation into why they weren’t submitted, lack of resources and funding was revealed to be the issue for some departments. Other reported concerns included victim credibility, cooperation, or predicted the outcome of the case itself which are not sufficient reasons to harbor valuable evidence. DNA is critical to forensic investigations especially instances of sexual assault. It can identify a suspect in a single crime, reveal the identity of a serial offender, or exonerate one who has been wrongly accused. There should be a mandate that requires all evidence samples collected by police to be tested. It will benefit the investigation in question as well as further others.
The most significant challenge caused by bias with respect to evidence collection and examination is that some evidence is seen as stronger than the rest. For example, evidence that suggests a specific person like DNA evidence from a bloodstain is both highly relevant but also specific to the crime like a bloodstain matching to a suspect. Whereas less relevant DNA data might be suspect DNA on a discarded cup outside the crime scene. It places the suspect at the scene but not necessarily in the perpetration of the crime.
In some cases, the investigator may have to explain the science behind the evidence to link the cause of the crime versus the evidence speaking for itself. A suspect and victim DNA on a knife with the suspect’s fingerprint speaks for itself, whereas a knife concluded to be the murder weapon that is owned by a suspect doesn’t quite meet that mark. There is an element of telling a story to the jury that is supported by evidence. The strategy would entail convincing the jury of a chain of events that are supported by evidence and emphasizing the higher relevance evidence. Of course, the defense will tell their own story emphasizing the evidence that doesn’t meet the mark. Evidence collection and processing should follow a standard procedure to ensure the probative value; however, mitigation of challenges must take place during the trial which includes educating the jury.
After reading this week’s material concerning types of evidence, what reasons are used to proceed with a criminal case and perceptions of jury’s with regard to how they interpret evidence. Most of this simply makes me upset, why you might ask? I remember growing up in the 80’s seeing how crimes were usually carried out against people of color, which means the bias against people of color was usually there before the crime was committed. Institutionally, America has over 70% of the world’s prisons, and prisons are a business to big and profitable to see them slowing down now. Culturally, evidence is based on what you can afford, the more money you have, the better evidence you can afford, examining the evidence is the same, doesn’t make you angry that if you had the evidence of a crime against you, it would depend on your gender, age, bank account, ethnic background and race to see if you got a fair treatment.
I would like to say I have a way to mitigate these occurance’s from happening, but frankly I don’t think that is possible, 30 years ago the thought was if the technology improved and you could catch a crime on video with clear resolution, it would change the perceptions for the better. That hasn’t happened! The only difference now is that now there is video evidence everywhere, but now the counter to that is can you believe your eyes? Or is this video legitimate? In this case improvements in technology have not improved the overall perception of fairness and equality.