July 19th, 2012
We are very excited to report that two new bills were introduced last week that are intended to strengthen forensic science reform in the United States. Senator John (Jay) Rockefeller, the Chair of the Commerce Committee, introduced S. 3378 called, “The Forensic Science and Standards Act of 2012”and Representative Eddie Johnson introduced companion legislation, H. R. 6106 in the House of Representatives. Both proposed pieces of legislation are designed to address problems with the way forensic science is collected and analyzed in the United States. The National Academies of Science issued a report in 2009 called, “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward” which identified deficiencies with the current state of forensic science issued a set of recommendations to improve the discipline. One important component of the bills is that they incorporate the NAS Report’s recommendation to implement national forensic standards.
Unvalidated forensic science is one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions. The proposed legislation comes the same week that the Department of Justice and FBI announced that they would re-review thousands of old cases with potentially faulty forensic evidence. We hope that this legislation can help prevent future wrongful convictions based on unvalidated forensic science.