Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page R1
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward STRENGTHENING FORENSIC SCIENCE IN THE UNITED STATES A PATH FORWARD Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community Committee on Science, Technology, and Law Policy and Global Affairs Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
OCR for page R2
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Contract No. 2006-DN-BX-0001 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institute of Justice. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Strengthening forensic science in the United States : a path forward : summary / Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community, Committee on Science, Technology, and Law Policy and Global Affairs, Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN-13: 978-0-309-13135-3 (hardcover) ISBN-10: 0-309-13135-9 (hardcover) ISBN-13: 978-0-309-13131-5 (pbk.) ISBN-10: 0-309-13131-6 (pbk.) 1. Forensic sciences—United States. 2. Criminal investigation—United States. 3. Evidence, Criminal—United States. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community. II. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Science, Technology, and Law Policy and Global Affairs. III. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics. HV8073.S7347 2009 363.250973—dc22 2009011443 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
OCR for page R3
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
OCR for page R4
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward This page intentionally left blank.
OCR for page R5
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward COMMITTEE ON IDENTIFYING THE NEEDS OF THE FORENSIC SCIENCE COMMUNITY HARRY T. EDWARDS, (Co-chair), Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit CONSTANTINE GATSONIS, (Co-chair), Director, Center for Statistical Sciences, Brown University MARGARET A. BERGER, Suzanne J. and Norman Miles Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School JOE S. CECIL, Project Director, Program on Scientific and Technical Evidence, Federal Judicial Center M. BONNER DENTON, Professor of Chemistry, University of Arizona MARCELLA F. FIERRO, Medical Examiner of Virginia (ret.) KAREN KAFADAR, Rudy Professor of Statistics and Physics, Indiana University PETE M. MARONE, Director, Virginia Department of Forensic Science GEOFFREY S. MEARNS, Dean, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University RANDALL S. MURCH, Associate Director, Research Program Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University CHANNING ROBERTSON, Ruth G. and William K. Bowes Professor, Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs, and Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Stanford University MARVIN E. SCHECHTER, Attorney ROBERT SHALER, Director, Forensic Science Program, Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department, Eberly College of Science, The Pennsylvania State University JAY A. SIEGEL, Professor, Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program, Indiana University-Purdue University SARGUR N. SRIHARI, SUNY Distinguished Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering and Director, Center of Excellence for Document Analysis and Recognition (CEDAR), University at Buffalo, State University of New York SHELDON M. WIEDERHORN (NAE), Senior NIST Fellow, National Institute of Standards and Technology ROSS E. ZUMWALT, Chief Medical Examiner, Office of the Medical Examiner of the State of New Mexico
OCR for page R6
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward Staff ANNE-MARIE MAZZA, Study Director SCOTT T. WEIDMAN, Director, Board on Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications JOHN SISLIN, Program Officer, Board on Higher Education and Workforce DAVID PADGHAM, Program Officer, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (until 5/08) STEVEN KENDALL, Senior Program Associate KATIE MAGEE, Senior Program Assistant (until 9/07) KATHI E. HANNA, Consultant Writer SARA D. MADDOX, Editor ROBIN ACKERMAN, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow GEMAYEL JEAN-PAUL, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow JOHNALYN D. LYLES, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow SANDRA OTTENSMANN, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow DEIRDRE PARSONS, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow SARAH RYKER, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow SUNBIN SONG, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow
OCR for page R7
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND LAW DONALD KENNEDY (NAS/IOM), (Co-chair), President Emeritus and Bing Professor of Environmental Science Emeritus, Stanford University; Emeritus Editor-in-Chief, Science RICHARD A. MERRILL (IOM), (Co-chair), Daniel Caplin Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Virginia Law School FREDERICK R. ANDERSON, JR., Partner, McKenna, Long, & Aldridge LLP MARGARET A. BERGER, Suzanne J. and Norman Miles Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School ARTHUR I. BIENENSTOCK, Special Assistant to the President for SLAC and Federal Research Policy, Stanford University BARBARA E. BIERER, Senior Vice President for Research, Brigham and Women’s Hospital ELIZABETH H. BLACKBURN (NAS/IOM), Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco JOE S. CECIL, Project Director, Program on Scientific and Technical Evidence, Federal Judicial Center RICHARD F. CELESTE, President, Colorado College JOEL E. COHEN (NAS), Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor and Head, Laboratory of Populations, The Rockefeller University and Columbia University KENNETH W. DAM, Max Pam Professor Emeritus of American and Foreign Law and Senior Lecturer, University of Chicago Law School ROCHELLE COOPER DREYFUSS, Pauline Newman Professor of Law and Director, Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy, New York University School of Law ALICE P. GAST (NAE), President, Lehigh University LAWRENCE O. GOSTIN (IOM), Associate Dean for Research and Academic Programs, Linda D. and Timothy J. O’Neill Professor of Global Health Law, Georgetown University; Professor of Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University GARY W. HART, Wirth Chair Professor, School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado, Denver BENJAMIN W. HEINEMAN, JR., Senior Fellow, Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government DAVID BROCK HORNBY, Judge, U.S. District Court, District of Maine DAVID KORN (IOM), Vice Provost for Research, Harvard University RICHARD A. MESERVE (NAE), President, Carnegie Institution of Washington
OCR for page R8
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward DUNCAN T. MOORE (NAE), Professor, The Institute of Optics, University of Rochester ALAN B. MORRISON, Visiting Professor, Washington College of Law, American University HARRIET RABB, Vice President and General Counsel, Rockefeller University PAUL D. RHEINGOLD, Senior Partner, Rheingold, Valet, Rheingold, Shkolnik & McCartney LLP BARBARA ROTHSTEIN, Director, Federal Judicial Center JONATHAN M. SAMET (IOM), Founding Director, Institute for Global Health and Chairman, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California DAVID S. TATEL, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Staff ANNE-MARIE MAZZA, Director STEVEN KENDALL, Senior Program Associate
OCR for page R9
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward COMMITTEE ON APPLIED AND THEORETICAL STATISTICS KAREN KAFADAR, (Chair), Rudy Professor of Statistics and Physics, Indiana University AMY BRAVERMAN, MISR Co-Investigator, Statistics and Data Analysis, Earth and Space Sciences Division, Jet Propulsion Laboratory CONSTANTINE GATSONIS, Director, Center for Statistical Sciences, Brown University MICHAEL GOODCHILD (NAS), Professor, Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara KATHRYN B. LASKEY, Professor, Department of Systems Engineering and Operations Research, George Mason University MICHAEL LESK (NAE), Professor, Library and Information Sciences, Rutgers University THOMAS A. LOUIS, Professor, Department of Biostatistics, Bloomberg School of Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University MICHAEL A. NEWTON, Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, University of Wisconsin, Madison MICHAEL L. STEIN, Professor, Department of Statistics, The University of Chicago Staff SCOTT WEIDMAN, Director NEAL GLASSMAN, Senior Program Officer BARBARA WRIGHT, Administrative Assistant
OCR for page R10
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward This page intentionally left blank.
OCR for page R11
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward Acknowledgments ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF PRESENTERS The committee gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following individuals who made thoughtful presentations before it: Chris Asplen, Gordon Thomas Honeywell Government Affairs; Peter D. Barnett, Forensic Science Associates; Richard E. Bisbing, McCrone Associates, Inc., and Scientific Working Group on Materials Analysis (SWGMAT); Joseph P. Bono, U.S. Secret Service; Michael R. Bromwich, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP; Bruce Budowle, Federal Bureau of Investigation; James Burans, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Thomas Cantwell, U.S. Department of Defense; Larry Chelko, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory; John Collins, DuPage County Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory; Charles Cooke, Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Robin Cotton, Boston University School of Medicine; Joseph A. DiZinno, Federal Bureau of Investigation; James Downs, National Association of Medical Examiners and Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations and Georgia Bureau of Investigation; Itiel Dror, University of Southampton; Arthur Eisenberg, Forensic Quality Services; Barry A. J. Fisher, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; Eric Friedberg, Stroz Friedberg, LLC; Robert E. Gaensslen, University of Illinois at Chicago; Brandon L. Garrett, University of Virginia; Michael D. Garris, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Ed German, U.S. Army (ret.); Paul C. Giannelli, Case Western Reserve University School of Law; Bruce A. Goldberger, American Academy of Forensic Sciences; Hank
OCR for page R12
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward Greely, Stanford University; Barbara Guttman, National Institute of Standards and Technology; David W. Hagy, U.S. Department of Justice; Randy Hanzlick, Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Center and Emory University School of Medicine; Carol Henderson, National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law and Stetson University; Matthew J. Hickman, U.S. Department of Justice; Peter T. Higgins, The Higgins-Hermansen Group; Max M. Houck, West Virginia University; Vici Inlow, U.S. Secret Service; Jan L. Johnson, Illinois State Police; Jay Kadane, Carnegie Mellon University; David Kaye, Arizona State University; Peter D. Komarinski, Komarinski & Associates, LLC; Roger G. Koppl, Farleigh Dickinson University; Glenn Langenburg, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; Deborah Leben, U.S. Secret Service; John Lentini, Scientific Fire Analysis, LLC; Alan I. Leshner, American Association for the Advancement of Science; William MacCrehan, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Bill Marbaker, American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors; Kenneth F. Martin, Massachusetts State Police; Carole McCartney, University of Leeds; Stephen B. Meagher, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Scientific Working Group on Friction Ridge Analysis, Study and Technology (SWGFAST); Jennifer Mnooken, University of California, Los Angeles Law School; John E. Moalli, Exponent; John Morgan, U.S. Department of Justice; Michael Murphy, Las Vegas Office of the Coroner; Peter Neufeld, The Innocence Project; John Onstwedder III, Illinois State Police; Garry F. Peterson, Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office and National Association of Medical Examiners; Joseph L. Peterson, California State University, Los Angeles; Peter Pizzola, New York Police Department Crime Laboratory; Joe Polski, Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations and International Association for Identification; Larry Quarino, Cedar Crest College; Irma Rios, City of Houston Crime Lab; Michael Risinger, Seton Hall Law School; Michael J. Saks, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University; Nelson A. Santos, Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs (SWGDRUG); David R. Senn, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; Robert Stacey, American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, Laboratory Accreditation Board; David Stoney, Stoney Forensic, Inc.; Peter Striupaitis, International Association for Identification and Scientific Working Group for Firearms and Toolmarks (SWGGUN); Rick Tontarski, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory; Richard W. Vorder Bruegge, Federal Bureau of Investigation; Victor W. Weedn; and Tom Witt, West Virginia University. ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF REVIEWERS This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with pro-
OCR for page R13
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward cedures approved by the National Academies’ Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: R. Stephen Berry, University of Chicago; Christophe Champod, Universite de Lausanne, Switzerland; William Chisum, Retired, National Crime Investigation and Training; Joel Cohen, Rockefeller University; Peter DeForest, John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Stephen Fienberg, Carnegie Mellon University; Barry Fisher, Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Department; Mark Flomenbaum, Boston University; Ross Gardner, Gardner Forensic Consulting; Paul Giannelli, Case Western Reserve University; Randy Hanzlick, Emory University; Keith Inman, Forensic Analytical Sciences, Inc.; Dan Kahan, Yale Law School; Roger Kahn, Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office; Elizabeth Loftus, University of California, Irvine; C. Owen Lovejoy, Kent State University; Kenneth Melson, George Washington University; Michael Murphy, Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner, Las Vegas, Nevada; Hyla Napadensky, Retired, Napadensky Energetics, Inc.; Joseph Peterson, California State University, Los Angeles; William Press, University of Texas, Austin; Jed Rakoff, U.S. District Court Southern District of New York; Carl Selavka, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory; David Stoney, Stoney Forensic, Inc.; and Charles Wellford, University of Maryland. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by John Bailar, University of Chicago, and Royce Murray, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Appointed by the National Academies, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
OCR for page R14
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward This page intentionally left blank.
OCR for page R15
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward Contents Preface xix Summary 1 Introduction, 1 Findings and Recommendations, 14 1 Introduction 35 What Is Forensic Science?, 38 Pressures on the Forensic Science System, 39 Organization of This Report, 53 2 The Forensic Science Community and the Need for Integrated Governance 55 Crime Scene Investigation, 56 Forensic Science Laboratories and Service Providers, 57 Case Backlogs, 61 NIJ’s Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program, 62 Forensic Services Beyond the Traditional Laboratory, 64 Federal Forensic Science Activities, 65 Research Funding, 71 Professional Associations, 75 Conclusions and Recommendation, 77
OCR for page R16
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward 3 The Admission of Forensic Science Evidence in Litigation Law and Science 85 Law and Science, 86 The Frye Standard and Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, 88 The Daubert Decision and the Supreme Court’s Construction of Rule 702, 90 The 2000 Amendment of Rule 702, 92 An Overview of Judicial Dispositions of Daubert-Type Questions, 95 Some Examples of Judicial Dispositions of Questions Relating to Forensic Science Evidence, 99 Conclusion, 110 4 The Principles of Science and Interpreting Scientific Data 111 Fundamental Principles of the Scientific Method, 112 Conclusion, 125 5 Descriptions of Some Forensic Science Disciplines 127 Biological Evidence, 128 Analysis of Controlled Substances, 134 Friction Ridge Analysis, 136 Other Pattern/Impression Evidence: Shoeprints and Tire Tracks, 145 Toolmark and Firearms Identification, 150 Analysis of Hair Evidence, 156 Analysis of Fiber Evidence, 162 Questioned Document Examination, 164 Analysis of Paint and Coatings Evidence, 167 Analysis of Explosives Evidence and Fire Debris, 171 Forensic Odontology, 174 Bloodstain Pattern Analysis, 177 An Emerging Forensic Science Discipline: Digital and Multimedia Analysis, 179 Conclusions, 183 6 Improving Methods, Practice, and Performance in Forensic Science 183 Independence of Forensic Science Laboratories, 183 Uncertainties and Bias, 184 Reporting Results, 185 The Need for Research, 187 Conclusions and Recommendations, 188
OCR for page R17
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward 7 Strengthening Oversight of Forensic Science Practice 193 Accreditation, 195 Standards and Guidelines for Quality Control, 201 Proficiency Testing, 206 Certification, 208 Oversight as a Requirement of Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants, 211 Codes of Ethics, 212 Conclusions and Recommendations, 213 8 Education and Training in Forensic Science 217 Status of Forensic Science Education, 218 Challenges and Opportunities to Improve Forensic Science Education, 224 Research as a Component of Forensic Science Education Programs, 230 Status of Training, 231 Education in the Legal System, 234 Conclusions and Recommendation, 237 9 Medical Examiner and Coroner Systems: Current and Future Needs 241 Medical Examiners and Coroners (ME/C), 243 ME/C Jurisdiction, 244 ME/C Missions, 244 Variations in ME/C Systems, 245 Qualifications of Coroners and Medical Examiners, 247 ME/C Administration and Oversight, 249 ME/C Staffing and Funding, 249 The Movement to Convert Coroner Systems to Medical Examiner Systems, 251 Utilization of Best Practices, 252 Potential Scientific Advances That May Assist ME/Cs, 253 The Shortage of Medical Examiners and Forensic Pathologists, 256 Standards and Accreditation for Death Investigation Systems, 258 Quality Control and Quality Assurance, 259 Continuing Medical Education, 259 Homeland Security, 260 Forensic Pathology Research, 261 Common Methods of Sample and Data Collection, 263 Conclusions and Recommendation, 265
OCR for page R18
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward 10 Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems 269 Interoperability Challenges, 273 Conclusions and Recommendation, 276 11 Homeland Security and the Forensic Science Disciplines 279 Conclusion and Recommendation, 285 Appendixes A Biographical Information of Committee and Staff 287 B Committee Meeting Agendas 303 Index 315
OCR for page R19
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward Preface Recognizing that significant improvements are needed in forensic science, Congress directed the National Academy of Sciences to undertake the study that led to this report. There are scores of talented and dedicated people in the forensic science community, and the work that they perform is vitally important. They are often strapped in their work, however, for lack of adequate resources, sound policies, and national support. It is clear that change and advancements, both systemic and scientific, are needed in a number of forensic science disciplines—to ensure the reliability of the disciplines, establish enforceable standards, and promote best practices and their consistent application. In adopting this report, the aim of our committee is to chart an agenda for progress in the forensic science community and its scientific disciplines. Because the work of forensic science practitioners is so obviously wide-reaching and important—affecting criminal investigation and prosecution, civil litigation, legal reform, the investigation of insurance claims, national disaster planning and preparedness, homeland security, and the advancement of technology—the committee worked with a sense of great commitment and spent countless hours deliberating over the recommendations that are included in the report. These recommendations, which are inexorably interconnected, reflect the committee’s strong views on policy initiatives that must be adopted in any plan to improve the forensic science disciplines and to allow the forensic science community to serve society more effectively. The task Congress assigned our committee was daunting and required serious thought and the consideration of an extremely complex and decentralized system, with various players, jurisdictions, demands, and limitations. Throughout our lengthy deliberations, the committee heard testimony
OCR for page R20
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward from the stakeholder community, ensuring that the voices of forensic practitioners were heard and their concerns addressed. We also heard from professionals who manage forensic laboratories and medical examiner/coroner offices; teachers who are devoted to training the next generation of forensic scientists; scholars who have conducted important research in a number of forensic science fields; and members of the legal profession and law enforcement agencies who understand how forensic science evidence is collected, analyzed, and used in connection with criminal investigations and prosecutions. We are deeply grateful to all of the presenters who spoke to the committee and/or submitted papers for our consideration. These experts and their work served the committee well. In considering the testimony and evidence that was presented to the committee, what surprised us the most was the consistency of the message that we heard: The forensic science system, encompassing both research and practice, has serious problems that can only be addressed by a national commitment to overhaul the current structure that supports the forensic science community in this country. This can only be done with effective leadership at the highest levels of both federal and state governments, pursuant to national standards, and with a significant infusion of federal funds. The recommendations in this report represent the committee’s studied opinion on how best to achieve this critical goal. We had the good fortune to serve as co-chairs of the committee entrusted with addressing Congress’ charge. The committee, formed under the auspices of the National Academies’ Committee on Science, Technology, and Law and Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, was composed of many talented professionals, some expert in various areas of forensic science, others in law, and still others in different fields of science and engineering. They listened, read, questioned, vigorously discussed the findings and recommendations offered in this report, and then worked hard to complete the research and writing required to produce the report. We are indebted to our colleagues for all the time and energy they gave to this effort. We are also most grateful to the staff, Anne-Marie Mazza, Scott Weidman, Steven Kendall, and the consultant writer, Kathi Hanna, for their superb work and dedication to this project; to staff members David Padgham and John Sislin, and editor, Sara Maddox, for their assistance; and to Paige Herwig, Laurie Richardson, and Judith A. Hunt for their sterling contributions in checking source materials and assisting with the final production of the report. Harry T. Edwards and Constantine Gatsonis Committee Co-chairs