For the first time ever, The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department is reviewing thousands of criminal convictions from the past decade that may possibly be flawed. Individuals earning a criminal justice degree or an online criminal justice degree should be aware of this current review as it is the largest post-conviction review the FBI has ever done in its history. The last review the FBI did was in 2005 regarding chemical composition of bullets to determine the manufacturer.
Both departments are working on the review that has come on the heels of stories in The Washington Post that accused the department of having faulty follow-up procedures. Cases that date back to 1985, or earlier if data is available, will be re-assessed by the FBI hair and fiber examiners.
The examinations have been accused of leading to potentially false accusations due to the fact the department is not conducting thorough investigations before coming to conclusions. Standards for conclusions were lacking, which may cause an innocent person to be convicted or exonerated. The Washington Post reported that there are 30 possible traits the FBI uses to determine whether or not a defendant is guilty, but analysts often only determine a person’s fate based on six or seven characteristics.
"Nothing can give back the many years those wrongfully convicted defendants spent in prison, but at this point all participants in the criminal justice system - prosecutors, defense lawyers, and the courts - need to make extraordinary efforts to ferret out as quickly as possible any similar cases," former Justice Department inspector general Michael R. Bromwich said.
The review will only cover cases in which microscopic hair examinations were conducted by the FBI, which is generally in cases that involved rape, murder and robbery. The process will take place over the next few months.