The New York Times reports today that members of the U.S. Congress have already committed to holding hearings on the recommendations of a long-awaited National Academy of Sciences report on U.S. forensic science released yesterday. The whole forensic science system, including research, credentialing of personnel, and certification of crime labs, is in drastic need of an overhaul, said the committee. First order of business: Congress should establish an independent National Institute of Forensic Science. The group also criticized methods such as fingerprint analysis that have traditionally relied heavily on instincts rather than quantitative data. The National Institute of Justice apparently balked at the study even before the committee was established and refused to supply funding for it. The only crime-tracking technique the panel found to be adequately backed by science is DNA testing, which has exonerated more than 200 convicted individuals in the past 2 decades.
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