National Academies of Science Takes on Forensics
The National Academies of Science (NAS) has released a report on the tragic state of criminal forensics. Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States has been received by many as a scathing critique of pretty much every modern forensic technique used in criminal investigations, including ballistics, blood splatter analyses, and fingerprint techniques. The NAS committee rightly calls for establishing a new agency independent of the Justice Department to oversee law enforcement’s use of forensic techniques. Attorney General Eric Holder is currently reviewing the report.
This has been a long time coming; many experts in the field of forensic science have been calling into question the techniques used to put thousands of people behind bars without any independent verification of their validity. Unfortunately, however, the report does not give as much scrutiny to the emerging issues surrounding DNA forensics despite several unresolved questions and growing ethical concerns. For a more detailed description, check out Chapter Three of the new CGS report Playing the Gene Card? A Report on Race and Human Biotechnology.