News 05.19.11

Science Thursdays: Possible Senate Investigation of Army Lab

US Senators call for an investigation of the Army’s forensic lab, budget cuts affect forensic pathology services around the country and problematic tests call drunk driving convictions and missed convictions into question in Vermont and Indiana. Here’s a roundup of forensics news:

 

Senators Leahy and Grassley call for an

investigation

of systemic forensic problems at the Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory.

The DC Medical Examiner’s office, which was accredited in 2008 on a provisional basis, has lost its

accreditation

.

The drop in autopsies of hospital deaths, from 50% of deaths to 5% since 1960, have resulted in missed opportunities to gather

accurate medical data

. The University of Michigan may take over

autopsy services

for Detroit.

The scientific journal,

Nature

, features an article on

jobs in forensic science

for scientists.

Dozens of drunk driving cases are being tossed or dismissed after the discovery that multiple breath testers used by the Vermont State Police were

improperly installed or malfunctioning

for the last two years. According to the Vermont Center for Justice Research, drivers are arrested at a rate of nine per day on drunk driving offenses in the state.

Indiana State Department of Toxicology blood and urine test errors date back to 2004.   An audit revealed that on average, the lab produced a

flawed marijuana result every 3.28 days

and a false positive marijuana result once every 18 days. A number of false negative results have been uncovered in serious

drunk driving accidents

.

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