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DNA evidence leads to man being exonerated of sex crime

When someone is accused of committing a sex crime — we’re not even saying convicted, but just the simple accusation of such an act — their lives can be changed forever. Their friends and family may never look at them the same way, even if they are innocent. Their professional lives could be ruined, if not tainted. And the person’s name may be all over the internet because of such accusations, creating a permanent connection between the person and words such as “sexual assault,” “rape,” and “sex crime.”

These charges are very serious, as are the acts themselves. Sex crimes are unforgivable, but that also means that the police have to identify the right suspect. Making a mistake during the early stages could ruin an innocent person’s life. Just ask a man who spent 11 years in jail before he was finally released thanks to DNA evidence that proved he was innocent of rape.

He was accused of the crime in 1999, and he maintained that he was innocent. But he was convicted of the crime anyway. In 2008, DNA evidence cleared his name — and yet he still remained in a jail cell for another three years before he was finally released.

Exonerations are becoming more and more frequent in the U.S., a positive trend that could help countless people behind bars who are there under wrongful circumstances. A recent report found that roughly 4 percent of people on death row are actually innocent. Figures like these show that we shouldn’t just lock people up, throw away the key and never think about them again. Some of these cases need to be reviewed.

Source: The Tennessean, “TN exoneration joins growing number of innocence cases,” Brian Haas, June 2, 2014

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