A Decade After "Forensic Science: Oxymoron?": Will There Be Real Change?

Saturday, February 16, 2013: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 310 (Hynes Convention Center)
The December 2003 issue of Science included an editorial titled “Forensic Science: Oxymoron?” In this article, Donald Kennedy wrote, “It’s not that fingerprint analysis is unreliable. The problem, rather, is that its reliability is unverified either by statistical models of fingerprint variation or by consistent data on error rates. Nor does the problem with forensic methods end there. The use of hair samples in identification and the analysis of bullet markings exemplify kinds of ‘scientific’ evidence whose reliability may be exaggerated when presented to a jury.” In 2009, a National Research Council (NRC) panel looking at the current state of forensic science recommended the creation of a National Institute of Forensic Sciences outside of the Department of Justice, along with other reforms. An important finding from the report was the lack of statistical foundation for the certainty in the conclusions expressed in courts by many forensic examiners. This session will highlight the current state of forensic sciences and future directions.
Clifford H. Spiegelman, Texas A&M University
Anne-Marie Mazza, The National Academies
The NRC (2009) Report Why, and What It Was Meant To Do
Greg Ridgeway, National Institute of Justice; Gerry LaPorte, National Institute of Justice
Strengthening Forensic Science at the National Institute of Justice
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