Forensic Evidence in Arizona: Reforms for Victims and Defendants
33 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2020
Date Written: November 9, 2020
This Article identifies the strengths of the current system in Arizona and proposes innovative reforms appropriate for labs that are already leaders in the field. Arizona is particularly well situated to increase its lab independence and to serve additional members of the criminal legal community: namely, defendants and victims.
Regarding defendants, this Article recommends greater transparency and accessibility to fundamental scientific lab findings for defense attorneys, similar to the practices of well-known independent crime labs such as the Houston Forensic Science Center. Additionally, the volunteer-run Arizona Forensic Science Advisory Committee can ensure greater integrity for forensic evidence in the courtroom if it is staffed, ideally with a staff attorney.
Regarding victims, in a moment of calls to “defund the police,” this Article proposes that police departments shift resources to hire more civilian crime scene investigators. More civilian investigators can increase responsiveness to property crimes for victims and also identify the scope of the property crime problem in regularly impacted neighborhoods. Economically struggling neighborhoods are frequently overpoliced for controlled substances violations, yet law enforcement is simultaneously under-responsive to victims of property crime in these communities.
Keywords: forensic, evidence, criminal, justice, police, lab, victim, defendant, prosecutor, scientific
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