DNA Testing and Errors

A recent NYT op-ed strongly alerted readers to a study that found errors in DNA testing. The National Institute of Standards and Technology gave the same sample of DNA mixtures to 105 US crime labs and 3 Canadian ones and asked them to compare it to the DNA of 3 suspects from a mock robbery. A DNA mixture is a biological sample of 2 or more individuals from which a DNA profile could be drawn. Today’s DNA testing is advanced enough that an analysis can be done even if someone has lightly touched an object. The labs correctly identified 2 of the suspects, but 74 got Continue reading “DNA Testing and Errors”

On Religious Freedom

A military chaplain, the Rev Ronald Apollo, sued the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to be able to practice his religious beliefs and won. BOP wanted all personnel to carry pepper spray, including chaplains, so that if attacked by an inmate they could protect themselves. Apollo challenged the rule and now prison chaplains will no longer have to carry pepper spray. That to some may be just another example of how the Christian right asserts its values on the society, but it is more than that. First of Continue reading “On Religious Freedom”

Private Prison Boom

I found a small article in der Spiegel magazine disturbing although I know there are those who will find in it a good tip, or a good move. I had already read that the Trump administration, in this case the Justice Department under Jeff Sessions, was undoing the phasing out of private prisons begun under the Obama administration.  But this article went further. It took notice of this action because Deutsche Bank issued a report saying Continue reading “Private Prison Boom”

Going To Jail as a Civic Duty

I was struck by an op-ed in the L.A. Times by novelist Jesse Ball in which he suggests that serving on jury duty may not be enough to fulfill our civic duty. His idea is that every 10 years we would be called to serve time at a prison. Just like most prisoners today we would not know which prison or for how long. He says anywhere from 3 to 90 days. Our lives would be disrupted just as that of those being incarcerated. We would be subject to all the prison’s regulations and to the way guards treat inmates. In short for that indeterminate period of time we would be just as any other Continue reading “Going To Jail as a Civic Duty”