SWIFS stands for the Southwestern Institute For Forensic Science which is a for hire lab that is used by Dallas County for processing forensic evidence. As part of the Citizen Prosecutor Academy I had the opportunity to tour the new facility in Dallas. Having not toured the prior facility I have no comparison but I do believe it is important for the justice system to know that the lab it is using is reliable and to that end I believe it is worth it to invest our tax dollars in an up to date facility and state of the art equipment as well as the best people we can find. Case in point would be the Houston crime lab which has come under great scrutiny starting in 2002 and continuing a decade later. The mayor of Houston declared her goal to make the Houston crime lab an independent facility extracting it from the Houston Police Department which makes a lot of sense. It could be seen as a conflict of interest for the crime lab to be part of the police department since results can effect the police department’s cases. Plus being a for hire independent lab would add income theoretically. The heat on the Houston Crime Lab is due in great part to the case of George Rodriguez which is credited with bringing to light a lot of issues in the lab from untested rape kits to mismanaged evidence and issues with how tests were done. Rodriguez was released in 2004 and sued the city in 2009 winning a $5 million judgement from a jury but settling on appeal for $3 million in early November of this year along with an apology from the city’s mayor. Rodriguez was released after spending 17 years in prison for allegedly kidnapping and raping a woman. His conviction was overturned when the forensic evidence out of the Houston lab that was used to convict him turned out to be flawed. To read more about this check out the Houston Chronicle article here.


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