SIX DANGEROUS MYTHS ABOUT ARSON

For many years fire investigators believed that they could use certain “burn indicators” to show that a fire was purposely-set instead of accidental. As a result, many people were sent to jail for arsons they never committed. The field has been modernized in recent years: arson investigations are more scientific than ever before. Nonetheless, several myths endure “proving” cases of arson – myths that send the innocent to prison:

MORE CSI CONTROVERSY

My hometown newspaper The Boston Globe reports on a controversy over possible resume-fudging at the state medical examiner’s office. Sadly, this isn’t first first allegation of wrongdoing at the state lab. Last year Ulysses Rodriguez Charles was freed and awarded $3.25 million in damages after spending 18 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of raping three women. His attorneys charged that authorities withheld evidence that DNA found in semen at the crime scene was not his.

CSI GONE ROGUE

In my previous posting I wrote about CSI labs that produced wrongful convictions because of sloppy procedures, outdated equipment and an unconscious bias toward the police. There’s a subset of these cases, though: Investigators who produced results so outrageously wrong that they appear to have done so on purpose – in essence, framing the accused.