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Deoxyribonucleic Acid

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ABSTRACT

Deoxyribonucleic acid is often abbreviated as DNA ,is basically a nucleic acid which contains genetic material or instructions that are used for the development and functioning of any living organisms except the RNA viruses. The main role that DNA molecules play is the storage of genetic information. DNA is in most cases compared to some set of blueprints, because it contains the main instructions that are needed for constructing other aspects of body cells, for instance proteins and others like the RNA molecules. The segments of the DNA that carry the genetic material are normally called genes, the other DNA parts have structural functions and purposes, for instance they are in are involved in the process of regulating the use of some of the genetic information and material . The RNA and other proteins in the DNA are some of the three main and major macromolecules which are essential for any form of life.

The background of DNA and how it came about

DNA mainly consists of two lengthy polymers which consist of small and simple units known as nucleotides which have backbones that are made of phosphate groups and sugars; they are normally joined by bonds of ester. The two strands sort of run in opposite directions from each other and therefore appear to be anti-parallel. One of those four types of molecules that are called nucleobases are attached to the sugars .It is the sequence and arrangement of these four nucleobases on the backbone which encodes the genetic information. This genetic information is normally read using genetic code, which helps in specifying the sequence of other properties like the amino acids in the proteins. The genetic code is normally read by basically copying the DNA stretches into related nucleic acid RNA through a process that is called transcription.

Within bodily cells, DNA is normally organized into some long structures known as chromosomes. During the process of cell division the chromosomes are normally duplicated in the DNA replication process, this provides each of the cells with its own set of chromosomes. Eukaryotic organisms always store most of their DNA material in their cell nucleus.

Court Cases that involved DNA tests

DNA has help free many people who were incarcerated for many years for instance there was a case involving a Texas man who was imprisoned close to 30 years ago because of robbery charges, he was lucky recently when his conviction got overturned after DNA test evidence helped him get exonerated. A Dallas County Judge by the name Don Adams overturned Mr. Cornelius Dupree Jr.’s conviction due to contrary evidence courtesy of a DNA test. Dupree had served many years in a prison in Texas for a crime he actually did not commit fortunately he got exonerated because of the DNA evidence. Its only two other individuals who got exonerated by use of DNA have spent a longer period of time in prison in the whole republic, this was revealed by the Innocence Project. Texas alone has freed close to 41 wrongly incarcerated prisoners and this is necessitated by DNA testing since the year 2001, than any other state.

Mr. Dupree told journalists that being free brought a lot of joy to him considering the period of time he had been unfairly incarcerated .He confessed that his release was both joyous but also made him angered in one way or another but the joy overrode the anger ,freedom meant a lot to him. The decisions of the judge were based on the some of the comments from a Dallas District Attorney by the name Craig Watkins, who said that the DNA testing proved otherwise in regard to allegations that Dupree committed the crime.

After his release Dupree attempted not to be too annoyed and angry, despite the fact that they had imprisoned him unfairly for 30 years and wasted his time. He announced that what happened to him could have happened to any other person but it was unfortunate that it happened to him and he pleaded for the federal government to correct the justice system to ensure that no one ever suffers for mistakes or crimes they actually didn’t commit. The system he was actually referring to was that of the united states but particularly Dallas because a record 21 individuals had been exonerated because their DNA test contradicted the allegations levelled against them .Mr. Cornelius Dupree spent thirty years in prison because of mistaken identity, something that would have been avoided if all the right practices would have been used in the due process that led to his misery.

Nina Morrison, who happens to be a senior staff lawyer at the Dallas Innocence Project, while addressing the media over the same issue confessed that indeed there, are a big number of people who are always wrongly accused and convicted especially in Dallas and many other places in America on the basis of wrong identification or mistaken identity. Fortunately she promised that a lot of improvements were in the offing to ensure that what happened to Mr. Dupree does not ever happen to someone else. Morrison attributed the exoneration of Dupree to the good work of some of the district attorneys who has seriously been examining some of the previous convictions very closely and also the Dallas County legal authorities for keep evidence safely. Watkins who was the then district attorney, said that there were no standards in place to basically help in the proper keeping of evidence, but when he assumed office, he ensured that people did not only seek to convict others but to also seek justice.

According to Shown, A. (2011), one of the measures that should be in place is to basically create a unit which specifically looks at claims of those alleging to be innocent .Watkins together with Morrison who work at the innocence project are fully determined to see that changes that are aimed at ensuring instant justice to the innocent ones are in place. The authorities should be concerned with ensuring that they bring back trust to the justice system.

Dupree had been accused of being part of a group of men who forced a middle aged woman who was in the company of a male friend to get into a car at gun point in the year 1979.The two were forced to drive and got robbed in the process as far as the court document used in that case are concerned. Dupree was also accused of raping the young lady according to the court documents. According to the court documents, the young lady initially managed to identify Dupree after being presented a photo line-up. During the trial, both victims alleged that Dupree was the one who committed the heinous crime. Dupree was convicted and given a 75 years sentence.

Dupree struggled and fought for his innocence from the day he was arrested and a very long period of time he unsuccessfully attempted to convince the authorities that he was mistakenly identified by the victim as the suspect. The Criminal court Appeal handling his case turned him down more than two times. According to Wade, S (2010), mistaken identification is one of the most common excuses that court give whenever they accuse and at times sentence people innocently, this has always plagued most of our criminal justice systems, however great strides have actually been made in past few decades to help accurately understand some of the problem in order to come up with solutions to help minimize some of the wrongful convictions. According to Osterburg, j.and Ward. R (2010) the state lawmakers should be very keen and take note of the unnecessary miscarriage of truth and justice that Cornelius suffered because whenever a wrong person gets convicted of a criminal activity, the real person who perpetrated the crime goes free.

The use of DNA is one of the most efficient ways to ensure that justice is dispensed to all fairly unfortunately it’s a bit expensive and if effected together with other small changes for instance reducing corruption because as much as DNA May be accurate,if we have a rogues judiciary then we are headed nowhere.To make the system most efficient and reduce chances of corruption quite a number of changes have to take place. First of all it ought to be completely independent including the operations of public defender offices, which should have their own readily available and stable full-time defense lawyers and attorneys fully backed by good office support staff and smart investigators. The public defender offices should be subjects to regular evaluation and scrutiny .Public defender offices should be established in more counties and if possible expand and strengthen the existing ones for capital cases, in order to have statewide reach among the less populated counties.

The state needs more leaders and particularly those in authority to have integrity so as to ensure that all the money that is allocated for targeted efforts doesn’t get misappropriated. The counties should strive to be self efficient and shoulder the entire cost of the public defender office for them to realize growth and a sense of responsibility. If at all this strategy doesn’t seem to work, then the grants should be structured so that the state can cover half the cost of the indigent defense program. Alternatively, the government can as well play an oversight role in order to assist public defender offices for them to be more effective.

Another option is to make the various attorney appointment procedures and systems across the state to be more independent. Many are of the opinion that the current system of giving the jury or judges the power to appoint the defense lawyers or attorneys runs counter to best practices that were promulgated by the American Bar Association. It’s argued that by giving judges and the jury this power, posed as a fundamental conflict of interest and an opportunity for corruption. Short of coming up with an independent public defender offices, options that can allow counties to come up with an independent counsel appointment system still exist. There is speculation that judges can still jump at such chances in a bid to relieve themselves of the heavy administrative burdens of appointing counsel.

The biggest pushback and impediment against a public defender’s office may probably come from older judges who probably don’t want to give up the influence that comes together with the power of appointing an attorney. Again some judges tend to use their power to appoint at times like a patronage tool when election year come. Legislatures should also try and see the possibility of a statewide public defender system. Particularly large and diverse ones like Texas need uniform and collectively agreed on standards that can best be enforced and coordinated through a statewide office. The authorities should also help by keeping a keen eye on counties that don’t comply with the Fair Defense Act.

THE STATES ROLE IN ENSURING THE EFFICIENT OF THE SYSTEM

The most important functions or role of a successful state commission or oversight body is to insulate the defense function by basically providing a measure of independence to the indigent defense system from all sorts of political and judicial influence. They should also incorporate medical practitioners who are trained in matters concerning DNA. Without that kind of composition of the justice system and independence, the probability or likelihood of managing to successfully improve indigent.

Defense services are highly diminished. Forty-two (42) states have created some kind of statewide public defender commission or agency which can provide oversight for indigent defense services. Next to giving independence to a state’s Indigent defense system, another critical role that the state commission should play is to act as an oversight body which should monitor costs and cases, or by basically ensuring that the quality of indigent defense services is high.

The state can as well develop indigent defense standards like performance standards and regulating caseload limits, and also overseeing compliance with the set standards. The oversight should be provided exclusively through a well established state commission or an oversight board. However, the level of the authority that the commission should have, together with its effectiveness ,should be linked to the amount of funds given or level of funding that will be provided by the state. Without all this the DNA tests can as well be useless.

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