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Forensic science system faulted

The nation’s forensic science system is badly fragmented and results in testimony that some types of evidence are reliable when there is no scientific evidence that they are, according to a report from a special committee of the National Research Council released today.

Analysis of hair, fibers, bites and tool marks have been used to provide a “match” to a particular person, the report says, but only DNA evidence can be used to directly connect  crime scene items to an individual, the report says.

Congress ordered the reserach council to study the forensic science system, and it appointed a Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community.

The 17-member committee includes former Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Marcella Fierro and Peter M. Marone, director of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science.

The report “strongly urges Congress to establish a new, independent national Institute of Forensic Science to lead research efforts, establish and enforce standards for forensic science professionals and laboratories, and oversee education standards.”The news release summarizing the report is here.

A short, carefully worded comment from the U.S. Justice Department is here.

By Alan Cooper

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