Thursday, February 5, 2009

Forensic Crime Labs: Biased, Unreliable, & Shoddy Science

An independent study on Police Forensic Crime labs has found them to have shoddy science:

Forensic evidence that has helped convict thousands of defendants for nearly a century is often the product of shoddy scientific practices that should be upgraded and standardized, according to accounts of a draft report by the nation’s pre-eminent scientific research group (National Academy of Sciences) . . . People who have seen it say it is a sweeping critique of many forensic methods that the police and prosecutors rely on, including fingerprinting, firearms identification and analysis of bite marks, blood spatter, hair and handwriting . . . analyses are often handled by poorly trained technicians who then exaggerate the accuracy of their methods in court . . . the field suffered from a reliance on outmoded and untested theories by analysts who often have no background in science, statistics or other empirical disciplines . . . a study of trial transcripts of 137 convictions that were overturned by DNA evidence found that 60 percent included false or misleading statements regarding blood, hair, bite mark, shoe print, soil, fiber and fingerprint analyses . . . the National Institute of Justice, a research arm of the Justice Department, tried to derail the forensic study by refusing to finance it . . .
Yet more proof that forensic proof is not fool proof. Only fools believed forensic evidence was fool proof, the rest of us knew better.

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