FBI

Bogus FBI Hair Sample Evidence May Have Sent Innocents to Prison

Not so scientific

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The FBI will review thousands of old cases, including some involving the death penalty, in which hair samples helped secure convictions, under an ambitious plan made public Thursday.

More than 2,000 cases the FBI processed from 1985 to 2000 will be re-examined, including some in which execution dates have been set and others in which the defendants already have died in prison. In a key concession, Justice Department officials will waive usual deadlines and procedural hurdles that often block inmates from challenging their convictions.

"This will be critical to giving wrongly convicted people a fair chance at a fair review," said Steven D. Benjamin, a Virginia attorney who's the president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.