Criminal Justice Legitimacy in United States in the Light of Post-Conviction DNA Testing

Festus C. Obi, Damian O. Odunze


Criminal justice system is an institution which ensures that the moral balance of the society is not disrupted by the malfeasance of any of its members. When an imbalance so feared is created, the system attempts to correct it by punishing the offender. But this punishment system has become a dragnet for both the guilty and the innocent. No one is sure how many innocent people are incarcerated in both federal and state prisons in the United States. This paper examines criminal justice in the light of post-conviction Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing and exoneration in the United States. The outcome is that post-conviction DNA testing has helped to exonerate not less than 438 convicted individuals in the United States who served an average of 15 years in prison between 1989 and 2016. This number casts doubt over the legitimacy of the criminal justice system in the country. As a result, this paper makes a case for mandatory post-conviction DNA testing in all crimes where human material samples are available and where accused persons claim innocence.

Keywords: Criminal justice, DNA, Post-conviction, Exoneration, Credibility

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5731 ISSN (Online)2225-0972

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