Problems Affecting Evidence Preservation
Many individuals are convicted for crimes they did not commit due to the spoliation of evidence; the alteration of evidence to damage it, suppress it (Brady Material), and contaminate it. Such evidence may be critical for an individual’s potential civil action. However, it can be very difficult to pursue cases of evidence spoliation because whether intentional or negligent, states do not have enough statutes to protect evidence from being destroyed while the individual is incarcerated. In addition, punishing the destruction of evidence associated with prosecutorial misconduct is exceedingly difficult. Utah still is in need of sanctions to prevent and demand compensation for spoliation of evidence.
With the improving technology available for examining the evidence, it is important to have the resources to re-examine old evidence. Old methods of biological evidence testing had a high rate of error, and are therefore obsolete. ABO blood testing compares the blood types of suspects with that found on biological evidence at the crime scene. Bruce Dallas Goodman had been convicted for a crime he did not commit based on his blood type matching that on the victim. Since the biological evidence was preserved, DNA testing proved Bruce’s innocence and revealed the DNA profiles of 2 other perpetrators. The results of biological testing such as the latter can be combined with other non-biological evidence to appeal an individual’s sentence – but only if the evidence is preserved.