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The Champion

August 2009 , Page 36 

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How Scientific is Forensic Science?

By Quintin Chatman

A report released Feb. 18 says the forensic science system in the United States has major deficiencies and needs to be overhauled. The report from the National Academy of Sciences is entitled Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward. In addition to calling for new research, the report recommends the formulation of strong standards and protocols for analyzing and reporting on evidence.

The report discusses numerous issues, including the need for standards for forensic science professionals and laboratories. Furthermore, the report notes the need to standardize terms used by forensic experts when testifying. Words and phrases such as “match” and “cannot be excluded as the source of” are not used consistently and need clarification. According to the report, some forensic techniques — such as fingerprint, bite mark, and toolmark analysis — are not supported by enough research to establish their level of accuracy and reliability. Moreover, the NAS Report has alread

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