Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (July 2009)
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May 13, 2015FBI hair errors call convictions into questionPhiladelphia Inquirer
By 2009, microscopic hair analysis - along with such forensic staples as analyses of bite marks and fibers - was labeled "highly unreliable" by the National Academy of Science
in a study titled "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward."
May 8, 2015A setback for forensic science
Washington Post (Opinion)In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences recommended that crime labs be separated from law enforcement control.
May 5, 2015The FBI’s Forensics DisasterReason
Another whole field of forensic science, compositional bullet lead analysis, was shown to be bogus in a 2004 National Academy of Sciences
May 4, 2015Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Wrong ManWCVB-TV Boston
In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences
issued a report questioning whether forensic science was really scientific at all.
April 28, 2015Senators Urge Action on FBI’s Use of Faulty Forensic EvidenceRoll Call
The letter calls for a three-pronged response to the study: that the Justice Department review the use of microscopic hair analysis in prosecutions by the FBI; that the Justice Department give those who have been convicted using erroneous microscopic hair analysis evidence a “full and fair opportunity to challenge their convictions” instead of simply just being informed of the error; and that the Justice Department and FBI work with the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to review the processes and standards of other disciplines of forensic science to identify opportunities for “stronger standards, better training, and further scientific research.”
April 27, 2015Junk Science at the F.B.I.The New York Times (Editorial)
A 2009 report by the National Research Council found “no scientific support” and “no uniform standards” for the method’s use in positively identifying a suspect. At best, hair-sample analysis can rule out a suspect, or identify a wide class of people with similar characteristics.
April 24, 2015On Death Row for the Wrong HairThe Daily Beast
Rather, follicles are put under a microscope and inspected against hair samples of parties involved in a crime. In 2009, the National Academy of Science called it “highly unreliable.”
April 21, 2015A brief history of forensicsThe Washington Post
After critics began to raise questions about the science behind the methodology, the FBI asked the National Academy of Sciences to create a working group to investigate. The NAS group concluded that the methodology wasn’t grounded in sound science.
April 21, 2015Fix the Flaws in Forensic ScienceThe New York Times (Opinion)
A 2009 report by the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academies, found that apart from DNA testing, no forensic method had been rigorously shown to consistently and reliably demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific person.
April 10, 2015A Lab ApartForensic Magazine
Following the National Academy of Science report in 2009 recommending that labs be pulled out of the police departments, and the well publicized problems with the Houston Police Department Crime Lab in 2002-4, the City of Houston created the Houston Forensic Science Center (HFSC) . . . .
April 9, 2015Are you running for president? Please answer these questions about the criminal justice system.
The Washington Post
It also comes after a 2009 National Academy of Sciences report, which found that in many forensic disciplines, analysts routinely give testimony in court that is unsupported by any scientific research.
April 8, 2015A bite mark matching advocacy group just conducted a study that discredits bite mark evidence
The Washington Post
That hearing was the first to assess the science behind bite mark matching since the field came under fire in a landmark 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences.
March 30, 2015Judges Need to Set a Higher Standard for Forensic EvidenceNew York Times
The concerns were not just about the “expert” witnesses, but about the judges who, according to the National Academy of Sciences report that led to the commission’s creation, have been “utterly ineffective” in assessing the quality of research behind the evidence.
February 27, 2015Should Texts, E-mail, Tweets and Facebook Posts be the New Fingerprints in Court?Washington Post
His view is buttressed not only by DNA’s overturning of convictions that relied on ballistics, hair analysis and bite marks, but also by a series of steps over the past couple of decades: a 1993 Supreme Court case, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, requiring more stringent scientific standards for expert testimony in federal courts, including known error rates; a 2009 report from the National Research Council urging comprehensive reform of forensic sciences; and two bills before Congress aimed at improving standards.
February 24, 2015Using Faulty Forensic Science, Courts Fail the InnocentLive Science (Op-Ed)
And yet, a 2009 report from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) identified numerous shortcomings in the field, including an absence of a scientific basis for most forms of forensic evidence, a lack of uniform standards and the need for independence from law enforcement.
February 20, 2015The Path Forward on Bite Mark Matching — and the Rearview MirrorThe Washington Post
The 2009 National Academy of Sciences report that was highly critical of the way forensics is used in the courtroom was entitled “A Path Forward.” The words expressed the hope of the report’s authors that it would serve as a catalyst to spur scientific testing of forensic specialties, more vigorous policing of what expert witnesses say on the stand and the development of uniform standards and procedures, all pointing toward an ultimate goal of preventing more wrongful convictions caused by unsupported expert testimony.
February 18, 2015Attack of the Bite Mark MatchersWashington Post
Some of those groups uncovered the flaws in forensic analyses that inspired a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report in 2009.
February 17, 2015It Literally Started with a Witch Hunt: A History of Bite Mark EvidenceWashington Post
Instead, as this series will explore tomorrow, the group’s leadership has focused on ruining the people who have helped expose those wrongful arrests and convictions. Bite mark matching in America began with a literal witch hunt. Its proponents are engaged in a figurative one today.
February 13, 2015How the Flawed ‘Science’ of Bite Mark Analysis has Sent Innocent People to Prison
The field of forensics has reached an important moment. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences published a congressionally commissioned report on the state of forensic science in the courtroom.
February 13, 2015Forensics Specialist Discusses a Discipline in CrisisNature
That was exposed very starkly in 2009 by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) when they produced a report called Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States.
February 6, 2015New Study has Found that Fingerprint Examiners Make Extremely Few ErrorsBiometric Update
“The results from the Miami-Dade team address the accuracy, reliability, and validity in the forensic science disciplines, a need that was identified in the 2009 National Academies report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward,” said Gerald LaPorte, director of NIJ’s Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences.
September 26, 2014Lured Back to Forensic Science, New Lab Director Ready for Challenge in HoustonHouston Chronicle (Subscription)
A 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences recommended that forensic laboratories should no longer be part of, or operated by, law enforcement agencies such as police departments or district attorney's offices.
September 15, 2014Mississippi Death Row Case Faults Bite-Mark ForensicsNew York Times
The lack of a scientific basis for bite-mark identification was stressed by the National Academy of Sciences in a 2009 report on forensics.
August 26, 2014Bucks Crime Lab Struggles with BacklogThe Inquirer
A 2009 National Academies of Sciences report also called for more accreditation in the nation's crime labs after finding serious deficiencies in some of them.
August 6, 2014Evidence in Criminal Trials Must be Based on Sound Science
Washington Post (Letter to the Editor)
In 2009, the National Research Council reported that a number of forensic disciplines “have yet to establish either the validity of their approach or the accuracy of their conclusions.”
July 13, 2014Understaffing Delays West Virginia Autopsy ReportsAssociated Press
A 2009 study by the National Academy of Sciences found that there were fewer than 500 licensed forensic pathologists in the country.
June 19, 2014Senate Approves Medical Examiner Office OverhaulAssociated Press
Peterson referred to a 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences, which noted that public forensic science laboratories ideally should be independent of or autonomous within law-enforcement agencies.
June 19, 2014
Trial by Fire: Junk Science Sent Dad to Prison for Killing Kids
Outrage about the execution mounted as arson science continued to evolve. In 2009, the National Research Council, which helps to shape policy on science, engineering and medicine, published a report that found that all matter of established forensics -- from fingerprinting to hair samples -- were not, in fact, well supported by science.
June 11, 2014
Forensic Science Isn’t Science
In 2009, a National Academy of Sciences committee embarked on a long-overdue quest to study typical forensics analyses with an appropriate level of scientific scrutiny—and the results were deeply chilling.
May 18, 2014
DNA Analysis Exposes Flaws in an Inexact Forensic Science
The New York Times
A 2009 report by a committee of the National Academy of Sciences found “serious problems” with an assortment of methods routinely relied on by prosecutors and the police.
May 12, 2014
Forcing Change In Forensic Science
Chemical and Engineering News
Five years ago, the National Academy of Sciences put out a report condemning the state of forensic science.
April 11, 2014
California’s Senate has Approved an Important New Forensics Bill
Washington Post (Op-Ed)
In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences issued a groundbreaking and disturbing report on how forensic analysis is used in America’s courtrooms.
March 18, 2014
Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed)
It's sobering to note, as the National Research Council did in a report in 2009, that only 60% of publicly financed crime labs even employed a certified examiner...
March 16, 2014
Controversies Prompt Calls for Change in Coroner Rules
The investigation cited a 2009 blue ribbon panel of the National Academy of Sciences that pointed out the absence of oversight of coroners and medical...
March 10, 2014
ACS Amends Policy Positions
Chemical and Engineering News
The recommendations are largely based on the 2009 National Academies report “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward,” which highlights the problems of the forensic science community...
February 4, 2014
Faulty Forensic Science Under Fire
In 2009, the National Research Council (NRC) released a damning report criticizing US forensics practices.
January 14, 2014
Junk Science Review: Texas to Examine Microscopic Hair Analysis in Criminal Convictions
A study by the National Academy of Sciences found that it could exclude suspects, but could not single them out with any reliability. With the advent of ...
January 2, 2014
Is DNA Analysis Stuck in the Past?
Even the quintessential document about forensic science written in the last decade — the National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) Strengthening Forensic Science ...
humane birth control, which the National Academy of Sciences recommends. Horse advocates and even some...
November 23, 2013
November 15, 2013
Gathering of Forensic Evidence Goes on Trial in TexasWall Street Journal
Forensic evidence has come under greater scrutiny nationwide following a 2009 report from the National Academy of Sciences, which concluded that no forensic method, with the exception of DNA analysis, has been proved to reliably allow crime-scene evidence to be linked to a particular suspect.
October 25, 2013
The National Academy of Sciences and other scholarly studies have cast doubt on body bite-mark comparisons. During Richardson's trial, the defense's own ...
September 25, 2013
Fabricant is just one of many people and organizations questioning the use of bite mark evidence in court. Perhaps the most prominent of these organizations is the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
August 19, 2013
July 18, 2013Flawed Evidence Under a MicroscopeWall Street Journal[requires subscription]
Pressure from activists and media exposés of flawed forensic practices led Congress in 2005 to commission a report by the National Academy of Sciences. Published in 2009, it concluded that besides DNA analysis, "no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source."
July 18, 2013
Officials to review flawed FBI hair analysis in criminal cases
Richmond Times Dispatch
Deemed unreliable in 2009 by the National Academy of Science, microscopic hair comparison analysis was routinely used by prosecutors in the years before DNA testing, to link a defendant to a crime. Gail Jaspen, chief deputy director of the Virginia...
July 18, 2013
Justice Will Review Two Dozen Capital Cases Due to Flawed FBI Testimony
The Atlantic Wire
The practice was deemed “highly unreliable” in the 2009 National Academy of Science report on forensic science, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward. As part of the agreement announced today, the agencies acknowledge...
May 22, 2013
A Presumption of Guilt
New research from the National Academy of Science proved there was no evidence of arson in the fire. Wrongly convicted, Taylor was finally released-42 years later. For nearly 50 years, starting in the 1920s, the population of U.S. prisons was around...
May 8, 2013
High Court Issues Stay of Execution for Manning
Jackson Clarion Ledger
After conversing with expert witnesses at our Crime Lab, it is clear that FBI experts and experts in all states used more conclusive language in their testimony up until around the time the 2009 National Academy of Science report was issued on forensics…
April 18, 2013
Engineer Working to Put More Science behind Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
Science Daily (press release)
As evidence, Attinger cites a 2009 report published by the National Research Council, "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward." "Scientific studies support some aspects of bloodstain pattern analysis," the report says. "One ...
April 2, 2013
Advances in Science of Fire Free a Convict after 42 Years
New York Times
A few years ago, the National Academy of Sciences turned its attention to the misuse of science in courtrooms, saying that pseudoscientific theories had been used to convict people of crimes they may not have committed…
March 28, 2013
Latent Fingerprint Interoperability Survey
NIJ has funded the Latent Fingerprint Interoperability Survey (LFIOS), the only comprehensive effort to provide a way to establish the level of interoperability of automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) maintained by state and local law enforcement agencies…
March 5, 2013
DC Forensic Sciences Department Facing Transition Challenges
The BLT: Blog of Legal Times (blog)
The department and lab were designed to make forensic testing independent of law enforcement, a key recommendation of a 2009 report on forensic science by the National Research Council of the National Academies. During the oversight hearing on...
February 21, 2013
New Commission to Set Standards for Troubled Forensic Sciences
The National Research Council report suggested the U.S. form a national institute just for forensic science. The new commission will perform many of the functions the research council suggested. The commission will have about 30 people, including...
February 15, 2013
U.S. to Commit Scientists and New Commission to Fix Forensic Science
...The announcement marked the broadest federal commitment to establishing national forensic science standards since the rise of the FBI Laboratory during the last century. It comes four years after the National Academy of Sciences urged...
February 14, 2013
IU's Kafadar Takes Ongoing Effort to Improve 'Science' of Forensic Science to AAAS Annual Meeting
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Such was the synopsis on the state of forensic science -- fingerprint and bullet analysis, hair and fiber evidence, blood stain and tire track analysis -- from a 2009 report from the National Academies of Science that Indiana...
February 12, 2013
Too Much Information
Slate Magazine: Reprinted North Jefferson News, Morehead News, Valley News
A 2009 National Academy of Science report criticized the current lack of quality control in the forensic testing system. But improvement seems less likely if crime labs are inundated with DNA from arrestees. The FBI has also opposed confidential...
February 6, 2013
Drug Lab Scandal: The Massive Failures Of Many Collided In A Perfect Storm
In 2009, the National Academy of Science (NAS) issued a sweeping critique of the nation's crime labs. Forensic scientists working for law enforcement agencies "sometimes face pressure to sacrifice appropriate methodology for the sake of expediency...
January 13, 2013Flawed Forensic Work
New York Times
That is the major reason the National Research Council in a February 2009 report strongly recommended that forensic scientific facilities and personnel not be...
November 27, 2012
D.C. Crime Lab: An Experiment in Forensic Science (Second of Two Parts)
A report issued by the National Academy of Sciences in 2009 questioned the entire underpinning of many established forensic science techniques. While morale in the field is generally low, D.C. is aiming high. Its Department of Forensic Science, the ...
November 17, 2012
Blood and Circus
Colorado Springs Independent
In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences called for serious reform to the field, stating that "Forensic science facilities exhibit wide variability in capacity...
August 23, 2012
More Science Needed for Forensic Investigations
Complaints about the unreliability of some scientific evidence used in courts worldwide are long-standing, and a 2009 report by the US National Research Council called for major reforms to the US forensic-science system, including better...
July 16, 2012
The Dark Side of Forensic Science
The Washington Post
As the National Academy of Sciences recommended in a 2009 report to Congress: "Research is needed to address issues of accuracy, reliability, and validity in the forensic science disciplines."...
July 10, 2012
Justice Dept., FBI to Review Use of Forensic Evidence in Thousands of Cases
The Washington Post
The review comes as the National Academy of Sciences is urging the White House and Congress to remove crime labs from police and prosecutors' control, or at least to strengthen the science and standards underpinning the nation's forensic science system...
May 18, 2012
Justice Department Should 'Step Up' on Flawed Forensic Evidence
In addition, Congress must act to address the concerns raised by the National Academy of Sciences about the integrity and reliability of forensic evidence. The American people have a right to expect that the forensic scientists on whom federal...