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New Federal Commission Formed to Develop National Forensic Standards

Posted on in chicago

According to the Innocence Project, “more than half of DNA exonerations involve faulty forensic evidence from crime labs and unreliable methods such as bite-mark analysis.”

Because of these high statistics, the US Department of Justice and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced the first ever national commission on forensic science. This 37 member commission will include forensics practitioners, scientists, lawyers and members of law enforcement. The commission’s goal is to offer guidelines on training standards and standards in certification as required by law. The group met for the first time last week.

The NIST will also be establishing a second commission, which is being referred to as a “forensic-science standards board.” This group will offer recommendations on which standards should be set for criminal laboratories. Over the past few years, several studies which have been done on forensic practices in this country have produced critical results. In 2009, the National Research Council (NRC) announced its findings on forensic methods, concluding that almost every analytical testing technique was unreliable and contained too many variables. The study said the only reliable testing technique was DNA evidence. The goal is to create standards that will be followed by federal, state and local laboratories. Currently, there are too many differences each organization’s “standard testing” procedures, even in DNA testing. Other test reliabilities have also been questioned in past studies. In 2003, the NRC found that polygraph tests are too unreliable, but, a decade later, many law enforcement agencies still rely on those tests. Another study done in 2011 revealed that one in every 1,000 fingerprints was incorrectly matched and actual matches were missed in almost 10 percent of the examinations. If you’ve been arrested and charged with a criminal offense, you need to contact an experienced Cook County criminal defense attorney to ensure your rights in the courtroom are protected.
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