This first episode of the DNA season in the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Chris Aspien, Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association, who discusses the evolution of DNA evidence, with a focus on the value of post-conviction DNA testing and the impact of DNA evidence on forensic investigations.
Aspien reviews his involvement in and perceptions of the evolution of the role of DNA in criminal investigations and the postconviction identification of wrongful convictions. His distinctive perspective stems from his participation in the Reno Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence. Regarding the role of DNA in criminal investigations, he touts the United Kingdom's giving top priority to the collection and analysis of DNA as the most important element in identifying suspects. On the other hand, Aspien views the United States as having viewed DNA evidence as a belated entry in an investigation to bolster evidence obtained in the initial parts of an investigation. He cites as an example the backlog of rape kits that have yet to be tested for DNA. Regarding the evolution of the postconviction use of DNA to exonerate persons wrongfully convicted, Aspien touts prosecutors' support for the introduction of postconviction DNA to reverse wrongful convictions. He also argues for expanding the collection of DNA from more types of offenders and arrestees.