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