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EP52: The DNA of a Wrongful Imprisonment (ft. Kimani Boden, Stephen Cordner & Amade M’charek)

DNA offers us the promise of an objective forensic science. Rather than following our own racially-biased hunches, technology can deliver us the unvarnished truth. Yet, we always interpret technology through our own particular lens, and within a society that produces technology in a particular sort of way.  In this episode, we look at how forensic DNA technologies relate to our ideas about race and criminality. We see how DNA led to the imprisonment of an innocent man, Farah Jama. Then, we look at the frontier of forensic DNA and artificial intelligence. A new technique promises to draw an image of a suspect based solely on what we see in the DNA, but critics say these pictures are entrenching stereotypes about race and crime.


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Darts and Letters was hosted and produced this week by Marc Apollonio, who is also our managing producer, with editing from Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn. Roland Nadler provided research assistance and David Moscrop wrote the show notes.

Special thanks this week to Julie Szego.

Our theme song and music was created by Mike Barber, our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop, and our marketing was done by Ian Sowden.

This is a production of Cited Media. And we are backed by academic grants that support mobilizing research. This episode was also a part of a mini-series on the state of forensic science. The scholarly lead on that project is Professor Emma Cunliffe.

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples.

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