The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved the Forensic Science and Standards Act of 2014, establishing scientific review and standards for forensic sciences, Wednesday. The bill, which was introduced by Committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, was unanimously voted out of committee by a bipartisan voice vote and clears the way for the bill to be considered by the full Senate.
Unvalidated and improper forensic science is one of the greatest contributors to wrongful convictions, playing a role in nearly half of the 316 cases later overturned by DNA evidence. The landmark 2009 National Academy of Sciences’ report,
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
, found that there is a desperate need to improve the validity and scientific quality of forensic evidence.
The Forensic Science and Standards Act would employ existing scientific agencies to develop and direct forensic research and set and implement standards for the forensic disciplines, helping to ensure that these disciplines are based on solid, reliable research.