The National Academy of Sciences is expected to release a report in the weeks ahead examining forensic science nationwide. The New York Times reports today that the NAS report may call for a federal agency to guarantee the independence and scientific integrity of the field.
The NAS has held hearings on forensic practices over the last two years, and the Innocence Project has offered testimony on the lessons learned from DNA exonerations about the chances that questionable forensic disciplines and techniques can lead to wrongful convictions. In our January email newsletter, we wrote that we are “hopeful that the report will call for additional research to validate forensic disciplines, clear standards for using various forensic disciplines in the criminal justice system and nationwide enforcement of those standards.” Today’s New York Times story on the NAS report says there is a consensus that the report will be “a force of change in the forensics field.”
Peter J. Neufeld, a co-director of the Innocence Project, a nonprofit group that uses DNA evidence to exonerate the wrongfully convicted, presented to the academy a study of trial transcripts of 137 convictions that were overturned by DNA evidence and found that 60 percent included false or misleading statements regarding blood, hair, bite mark, shoe print, soil, fiber and fingerprint analyses.
Read the full story here
. (New York Times, 02/05/09)