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
Date Written: 2014
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
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