Innocence Project Director Urges Obama to Push for Better Forensic Practices
Innocence Project co-director Peter Neufeld told the Marshall Project that he hopes President Obama will urge Congress to fund scientific research and set standards for forensic practices during his State of the Union address tonight.
The article featured input from some of the big names in criminal justice on what they hope the president will touch upon during his speech.
Neufeld highlighted the importance of proper forensic practices in preventing wrongful convictions:
One thing I hope people in both parties can agree on is that we need to provide law enforcement with the best, science-based tools to do their jobs well. One way President Obama can help do that is by urging Congress to provide the necessary funding and impetus to conduct scientific research and set standards to validate forensic practices – greatly reducing the number of wrongful convictions caused, at least in part, by unvalidated and improper forensic practices. These standards can also help prevent eyewitness misidentifications, the leading contributor of wrongful convictions, by requiring federal law enforcement officials to use the best practices endorsed in the recent National Academy of Science report on misidentification and giving incentives to the states to do so.
Steven Drizin, Assistant Dean of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University, said he hopes the president will urge Congress to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act, which provides funds to states that follow a series of federal protections on the care and treatment of youth in the justice system.
President Obama should say: ‘In 2014, I launched My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative to address persistent gaps faced by young people of color and ensure that all young people are able and willing to reach their full potential. But each year, approximately 200,000 children under the age of 18 are being prosecuted and punished as adults. It is time for the federal government to make juvenile justice a priority again. Today, I ask the 113th Congress to follow the bipartisan lead of Senator Grassley and the White House to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). We should also restore funding to the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention. I also ask Congress to work with me to rectify our past mistakes by giving the states financial incentives to reduce, and eventually eliminate, their harmful reliance on prosecuting and punishing juveniles as adults and to develop alternatives to incarceration.’
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