Policy 08.10.21

Scientists Join the Call to Retract Flawed Department of Justice Statement on PCAST Report

By Innocence Staff

(Image: Science in HD/Unsplash)

In recent months, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Democracy Forward have urged the Department of Justice to retract its flawed statement on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report, Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods. The statement, issued in January 2021, rejected the findings of this crucial report on the use of forensic science in criminal courts. This rejection of science was not based on evidence or data, a dangerous action that could impact how the DOJ approaches forensic science within its laboratories and prosecution strategies, and, therefore, will have very real impact on the lives of innocent people.

This week the Intercept reported on the efforts of Democracy Forward and the Union of Concerned Scientists to call for a retraction of the DOJ statement — a call that has yet to be answered. The Innocence Project is disappointed by the DOJ’s response to these requests.

Scientists agree the DOJ’s statement is scientifically flawed and can contribute to wrongful convictions. For nearly 30 years, the Innocence Project has used the power of science to reveal our clients’ innocence and advance evidence-based policies to reform a criminal legal system beset by racial disparities. President Biden has called for a return to scientific integrity and evidence-based decision making to restore trust in government and to advance racial justice through the federal government. We believe the DOJ plays a critical role in allowing science to speak independently of adversarial interests and meet the moment on critical issues of our time.

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