While scientific developments have helped law enforcement ensure some convictions, they have also uncovered system-wide failures due to problematic procedures and faulty techniques. Termed “junk science”, many practices and procedures meant to be scientifically rigorous ways of testing evidence have been proven false, as have the convictions they helped to secure. The National Academy of Science put out a 2009 report entitled “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward” detailing many problems in the area of forensic evidence, as well as suggesting some best practices. In addition, the National Institute of Justice released a 2014 report on the field: Strengthening Forensic Science: A Progress Report. We recommend the following articles, both compelling stories of how scientific standards have tragically failed and led to the wrongful convictions of the innocent:
- “Trial By Fire” a 2009 New Yorker article by David Grann on a faulty arson conviction.
- “The Lazarus File” an article by Matthew McGough in a 2011 issue of The Atlantic featuring a case of bad bite-mark evidence.
In addition to these articles, you can purchase this scholarly work by Brandon Garrett and Peter Neufeld “Invalid Forensic Science Testimony and Wrongful Convictions,” a case study on forensic evidence testimony supplied in trials where defendants’ convictions were later overturned by DNA evidence.