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Forensic Science Needs Reforms According to Major Organizations
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Friday, August 24, 2012

During a recent meeting in Philadelphia, Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, an organization based in New York that investigates potential wrongful convictions, asked researchers at the American Chemical Society (ACS) to do more to improve the troubled field of forensic science. Neufeld stated, "What we want to do is make forensic science more about science and less about law enforcement so it becomes an impartial assessor of evidence rather than a branch of law enforcement."

Complaints about the unreliability of some scientific evidence used in courts worldwide are long-standing, and a 2009 report by the US National Research Council called for major reforms to the US forensic-science system, including better standardization of protocols and more research into the reliability of methods used. The US Congress is now considering a bill that would provide money for forensics research and require the US National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish standards in the area.

Greg Hampikian, a geneticist at Boise State University in Idaho and director of the Idaho Innocence Project, told the meeting that he regularly has nightmares about the ease with which innocent people can be convicted because of flaws in forensics systems.

Hampikian has worked on such high-profile cases as that of Meredith Kercher, a British student who was murdered in Italy in 2007. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were convicted of the murder, partly on the basis of DNA evidence, but were freed in 2011, in part because Hampikian demonstrated that DNA can easily be transferred via gloves from an item a person has touched to another item, such as a knife, that they have not touched.
 Read the article here.





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