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Innocence Project to Free 200th Inmate

Posted Apr 9, 2007 12:22 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Innocence Project, a New York-based group that uses DNA to expose wrongful convictions, is expected to win the release of a 200th inmate this week.

Currently, DNA has freed 198 prisoners, including 14 on death row, the Star-Ledger reports.

Two law professors at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City started the project in 1992. It now handles about 160 cases a year. Now a majority of states have laws allowing DNA testing after convictions.

We have a technology [DNA] that is a truth machine that allows us to go back and get justice for the innocent," says Barry Scheck, a co-founder of the group. "There is a huge need for reform and the real significance of the 200 cases is that we are convincing states that it is the right thing to do."

One of the inmates freed is James Curtis Giles, who served a 10-year sentence for a rape he maintained he did not commit. If DNA evidence helps prove him innocent, he will be the 13th Dallas County man exonerated by DNA evidence since 2001, the Associated Press reports.

Assistant Dallas County District Attorney Lisa Smith says Giles’ conviction appears to be a case of mistaken identity. Her office’s investigation shows that a co-defendant's statements implicating another man were never revealed at trial or to Giles' lawyer.

The victim had identified a different James Giles in a photo lineup, Smith says. He died in prison while serving time for another crime.

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