Reports over the last week have revealed problems with DNA testing and fingerprinting in the Los Angeles Police Department crime lab. An investigation into the department’s fingerprint unit has revealed that faulty analysis led to the arrests of at least two innocent people, and the extent of the problems is still unclear. Another audit found a backlog of 7,000 untested rape kits in the lab. LA Times columnist Tim Rutten wrote that the city has compromised its justice system by failing to fund badly needed forensic improvements:
Public safety begins with justice, and the LAPD's continuing inability to guarantee the integrity of its scientific evidence fundamentally undermines the criminal justice system. That's clear, but the problem won't be resolved until the department makes correcting this failure a high priority and the council realizes that, in the 21st century, it's just as important to put white coats in the crime labs as it is to put blue shirts on the street.
Read the full column here
. (LA Times, 10/18/08)