The Georgia Bureau of Investigation celebrates 20 years of its ability to use DNA to solve crimes in Georgia.
The agency began using the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS in 1998 which enables federal, state, and local forensic laboratories to exchange and compare DNA profiles electronically. Since that time, it has solved nearly 7,000 cases and assisted in more than 9,000 others.
“The GBI is proud that DNA not only identifies the guilty, it also exonerates the innocent,” says GBI Director Vernon Keenan.
A prime example is the case of John Jerome White, who spent 22 years in prison accused of raping, beating and robbing an elderly woman in Worth County in 1979. In 2007, the Georgia Innocence Project took on his case and DNA evidence, which wasn’t available to test during his trial, pointed to another man. James Parham, who was already in jail, had been in the original lineup but the victim pointed to White instead.
Keenan says the technology the GBI crime lab uses has also improved over the past 20 years.
“When we started out, it required a sample the size of the bottom of a Coke can to be analyzed and three to four months of analysis work. Now, we can take evidence the size of the top of a pin and have the work done in two to three days,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.
The latest technology being tested is a rapid DNA test that would take just a couple of hours and a sample size not visible by the human eye.