Wrongfully Convicted? New Electrophoresis Forensics Lab

DNA science meets social justice

Over the past several years, forensics classes have become an incredibly popular and important entry point to engage students in scientific practice. But we have noticed that a lot of forensics curriculum takes too narrow a view of how DNA analysis can and should be used.

While several labs use forensic DNA analysis, most focus on using DNA to convict someone of a crime. We believe it is equally important to consider how DNA evidence can exonerate someone and our new lab takes that approach.

While the scenario presented in this lab is fictional, it is inspired by real cases where people have been wrongly convicted and later proven innocent through post-conviction DNA analysis. So far, such post-conviction DNA testing has led to the exoneration of 375 people in the US, including 21 on death row (Innocence Project, 2021).

The Wrongfully Convicted? Learning Lab from miniPCR bio presents students with a case of an individual named J.M. J.M. was convicted of a crime based on eyewitness testimony and microscopic hair analysis, but he has always maintained his innocence. Using gel electrophoresis, students analyze DNA evidence from J.M.’s case to ensure that the criminal justice system didn’t fail. Will the DNA evidence prove J.M innocent? Or will the evidence implicate him further?

At miniPCR bio, we think students should take a full view of the criminal justice system and how forensics analysis is used in it. We encourage you to look into the work of those who have used forensics to exonerate. The Innocence Project is a non-profit organization that “exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice” (Innocence Project, 2021). Learn more about their work at https://innocenceproject.org/

Learn more about forensic DNA analysis and the miniPCR bio Wrongfully Convicted? Lab with the resources below.

Free forensics resources by miniPCR bio:


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