News 05.12.09

NY Times: Plugging Holes in Forensic Science

A special series today in the New York Times examines the findings of the recent National Academy of Sciences report entitled “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward.” A cross-section of stakeholders in the forensic science community, the Times reports, support the NAS recommendation of federal and state government support, research and oversight for forensic sciences.

Barry Fisher, a past president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and a former director of the crime laboratory at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said he and others had been pushing for this kind of independent assessment for years. “There needs to be a demonstration that this stuff is reliable,” he said.

It’s not that there hasn’t been any research in forensic science. But over the years much of it has been done in crime labs themselves. “It hasn’t gotten to the level where they can state findings in a rigorous scientific way,” said Constantine Gatsonis, director of the Center for Statistical Sciences at Brown University and co-chairman of the National Academy of Sciences committee. And rather than being teased out in academic papers and debated at scientific conferences, “a lot of this forensic stuff is being argued in the courtroom,” Mr. Fisher said. “That’s not the place to validate any kind of scientific information.”

Read the full story:

Plugging the Holes in the Science of Forensics

(05/12/09)

Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld

will testify tomorrow

before a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary subcommittee. More on his testimony tomorrow.

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