Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Putting the Science in Forensic Science" - American Statistical Association

From The Innocence Project Blog

More than two years have passed since the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a groundbreaking report calling for national oversight and research to ensure reliability in solving crimes. One challenge to addressing the recommendations of the NAS report is the federal government’s reluctance to support new spending.

A column this week in AMSTAT News, the membership magazine of the American Statistical Association, recommends clear steps for the federal government to address this issue at minimal cost to taxpayers. Written by two professors and an independent consultant, the column calls on Congress to:

• Require crime labs to make reports and protocols on forensic science readily available on the web;
• Appoint independent scientific committees to evaluate forensic research, identify needs for further study;
• Redirect existing funds to support long-term research;
• Sponsor seminars and courses to educate judges, lawyers and others on forensic disciplines.

The three authors write:

In recognition of budgetary difficulties and political realities, these proposals keep costs to taxpayers to a minimum. Although their enactment would not solve all problems, we believe the proposed reforms are a doable first step toward ensuring that only first-rate science—beholden only to truth and not to law enforcement or any other partisan interest—is used in the courtroom. The integrity of the American judicial system demands that Congress and the administration speedily enact these reforms.

Read the full column.

Read more about the National Academy of Sciences and the need for a National Forensic Science Agency

For more background on the NAS report and weekly forensic news, visit the Just Science Coalition website.