Thursday, February 19, 2009

NAS: Forensic Needs Report

If you think of Forensics being like “CSI,” the report released on February 18, 2009, by the National Academy of Sciences will disabuse you of that notion.

Fingerprinting, ballistics, blood spatter, bite marks, forensic methods are being challanged. The crime labs are just not meeting standards for scientific investigation. Decades of casework are being called into question.How we move forward will have a far-reaching impact on crime labs, courts — and American criminal justice.

There are basic questions being asked about the validity of forensic evidence and its use in court. Academy President of the The American Academy of Forensic Sciences AAFS, Carol Henderson, JD, said, "It is important to recognize that the truth does not belong to a side in litigation and that the access to forensic science evidence should be available to everyone." This is a subject that is in the Supreme Court regarding an inmate who has been refused DNA testing in Alaska.

A 2010 symposium of the NAS will be, "Putting Our Forensic House in Order: Examining Validation and Expelling Incompetence."

At this point, unlike doctors and lawyers, those in forensics do not have professional organizations that license and can sanction practitioners in the U.S. or in the States.

The forensic science structure is fragmented and cannot provide a framework to eliminate or control standards, practice, and education. That raises the question of viability in the current system on the national level.

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