Un-sexy Forensics and Wrongful Convictions

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Outdated crime laboratories housed inside U.S. law enforcement agencies contribute to wrongful convictions, says Steve Weinberg in the July/August issue of Miller-McCune. He cites a recent study titled, “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward,” and the results are overwhelmingly clear. He writes:

Law enforcement crime laboratories are underfunded, filled with poorly trained and/or technologically backward staff, beset by quality control problems and, too often, complicit in wrongful convictions because criminalists unintentionally misread evidence or intentionally lie.

Weinberg warns that until crime laboratories are updated with current technology and removed from police headquarters, forensic examiners are more likely to succumb to pressure from prosecutors to provide conviction-worthy evidence. “One incompetent or dishonest criminalist,” he writes, “can infect hundreds of cases in a crime laboratory, with some of those cases mutating into wrongful convictions.”


Image bybilladay, licensed underCreative Commons.

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