After spending 35 years in jail for a crime he did not commit, Florida inmate James Bain has become the longest-serving prisoner to be exonerated using DNA evidence.
A court-mandated DNA test proved Bain was wrongly convicted of sexual assault in 1974
According to Innocence Project co-director Barry Scheck, head of the group that helped free Bain, there have been 248 post-conviction exonerations based on DNA evidence since 1989.
In this video, Jeffrey Brown talks to Scheck, who describes why wrongful convictions occur, and why it is often difficult to find or use DNA evidence in criminal trials.
"The one thing I have to say about this DNA, ladies and gentleman, it's going to do one of the two [things for you]. And I tell these gentlemen in prison that have this type of case, it's going to do one of the two, free you or lock you." - James Bain, former inmate
"We know what the causes of wrongful convictions are, eyewitness misidentification, false confessions, invalid or improper forensic science, prosecutorial police misconduct, or inadequate lawyering, jailhouse snitches. Those are the causes, but the one that has caused more miscarriages of justice is eyewitness identification." - Innocent Project co-director Barry Scheck
1. What is DNA evidence? How can it help solve crimes?
2. What does the word "exonerate" mean?
3. What happens if the legal system locks up an innocent person in jail?
1. What did you learn from this video? Did any of the information in the video surprise you?
2. Barry Scheck says that eyewitness identification is one of the biggest causes of wrongful convictions. Why do you think that is? Do you think that it should not be used in criminal trial?
3. Do you think $50,000 a year for James Bain is fair compensation after 35 years in prison? Do you think he should receive more or less?
4. Do you think that the U.S. Justice system operates fairly most of the time? Explain your answer.