News 04.09.14

The Senate Commerce Committee Unanimously Approves Bipartisan Bill to Ensure Forensics Practices Are Based on Best Science


Innocence Project Cheers Senators from Both Parties Who Support Legislation to Improve Forensic Practices and Prevent Wrongful Convictions


 

Contact: Paul Cates,

pcates@innocenceproject.org


 

(Washington, D.C. – April 9, 2014) Today 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. The bill, which was introduced by Committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, was unanimously voted out of committee by a bipartisan voice vote. Today’s vote clears the way for the bill to be considered by the full Senate.

 

The following can be attributed to Peter Neufeld, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law.


Today the Senate Commerce Committee approved critical legislation that will help ensure that the forensic practices used in criminal investigations are based on the best possible science and are guided by meaningful and consistent standards. Forensic practitioners have long asked for the scientific support this bill provides, and we have the same goal — to provide law enforcement with rigorously validated and steadfastly reliable forensic practices that identify the people who actually commit those crimes while protecting those who didn’t. We look forward to working with members of both the Senate and the House to quickly pass a law that will strengthen investigations and prevent wrongful convictions through reliable, science-based forensic practices.

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.

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