Radically Reimagining Forensic Evidence
80 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2021 Last revised: 9 May 2022
Date Written: July 22, 2021
Since the 1990s, when DNA retesting in closed cases first began to reveal flaws in forensic evidence, considerable positive work has been done to improve forensic methods and to prevent the use of unreliable forensic evidence in criminal cases. But reform efforts have also run up against resistance and have not resolved the serious questions about the reliability of forensic evidence and the validity of forensic methods decades after flaws were first uncovered.
Against this backdrop, this Article makes a new intervention in the forensic reform movement. As scholars and activists have done in other contexts, it draws from abolitionist principles to begin constructing a new framework for reimagining forensics based on an acknowledgment that forensic methods are carceral tools that enable and support surveillance, policing, prosecution, and punishment. It considers how the application of an abolitionist framework to forensic reform might illuminate new, previously unconsidered avenues for radical transformation of the forensic system. In doing so, this Article anchors the conversation about what is needed to meaningfully improve forensic methods in the broader, modern movement for criminal justice reform and begins to radically reimagine the forensic system.
Keywords: forensics, daubert, frye, bitemark analysis, ballistics evidence, voiceprinting, blm, innocence project, exonerations, admissibility standards, pcast, war on crime, defund the police, prosecutors, afte theory, mass incarceration
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