April 2011 Issue
Numbers Tell the Story
Jim and Nancy Petro stand up for the wrongfully convicted.
Jim Petro is a big fan of statistics, data, measurements — any numbers, really, that can help tell a story or prove a point.
As Ohio’s state auditor from 1995 to 2003, he followed number trails to expose waste, fraud and corruption in every corner of the state. Taking that office from “worst to first,” he says, is his greatest accomplishment in nearly three decades as an elected official.
In 2003, he moved on to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and he kept on counting.
“The first thing we began advocating was post-conviction DNA testing and taking DNA of every convicted felon and first-degree misdemeanant,” he says. “By the end of my term, we added 210,000 DNA profiles to the CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) database. We were really years ahead of other states.”
Hundreds of those DNA profiles matched DNA evidence from unsolved crimes all over the country, including a 1972 murder in Orange County, California, and the 1994 murder of Ohio State University student Stephanie Hummer.
Petro left elected office in 2007 and began working full-time in private law practice in Columbus, but the numbers didn’t stop talking to him. In fact, they helped compel the one-time criminal prosecutor to become an advocate for a cause that most wouldn’t associate with his law-and-order pedigree: wrongful convictions. To read more, click here to subscribe.>>