Reigning in the Wild West: The Necessary Outcomes and Inevitable Pitfalls of Reforming Forensic Science

24 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2014 Last revised: 23 Oct 2014

See all articles by Jessica Gabel Cino

Jessica Gabel Cino

Georgia State University - College of Law

Karyn Heavenrich

Georgia State University - College of Law

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

With the exception of DNA, no single forensic technique has proven to have the ability to accurately and precisely verify a match between evidence samples. For example, one of the core principles of fingerprint analysis is the all-too-familiar notion that no two fingerprints are alike. Indeed, fingerprints have general ridge patterns that make it possible to systematically classify and compare them, and the average fingerprint contains between fifty and 150 points of comparison. But fingerprint analysis does not involve a comparison of 150 or even fifty points of identification. Rather, most jurisdictions in the United States do not require a minimum number and convictions can be secured with a comparison of a mere six or eight points. Fingerprints are not alone in the forensic disciplines in requiring leaps of faith to arrive at reliability. Against this backdrop are persistent but failed attempts at forensic reform. This articles focuses on current developments in forensic reform and what can be done to prevent wrongful convictions.

Keywords: NAS Report, Forensic Science and Standards Act, Forensic Science, Reform

Suggested Citation

Cino, Jessica Gabel and Heavenrich, Karyn, Reigning in the Wild West: The Necessary Outcomes and Inevitable Pitfalls of Reforming Forensic Science (2014). 24 Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology 81 (2014), Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-32, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2465195

Jessica Gabel Cino (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

Karyn Heavenrich

Georgia State University - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

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