Wednesday, July 30, 2014

More on the Disturbing Saga of the FBI Crime Lab

Back in 2012, the Washington Post published an article exposing that "experts" from the FBI crime lab were offering court testimony at variance with the official policy of the FBI; these experts were saying that hair and fibers from crime scenes were "exact matches" to those from the defendant or the defendant's clothes, when the science clearly shows that no such certainty is possible. The Justice Department asked the courts to free two men convicted largely on the strength of this evidence and ordered the FBI to undertake a "major review" of all the cases in which their fiber experts offered testimony.

Today the Post has a follow-up story on what has happened since:
Nearly every criminal case reviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department as part of a massive investigation started in 2012 of problems at the FBI lab has included flawed forensic testimony from the agency, government officials said. 
And what was the FBI's response to this disturbing discovery?
The findings troubled the bureau, and it stopped the review of convictions last August.
Wow, this investigation is turning up lots of bad stuff -- we had better stop. Fortunately the Justice Department has ordered the FBI to resume work. Still, in two years they have only managed to review 160 out of 2,600 cases they were ordered to investigate, so a lot of men are still in prison whose convictions might end up being thrown out because of this, and they are taking their sweet time getting to those cases.

And this is the FBI crime lab, which had the reputation of being the most rigorous in the nation. Imagine what we would find if we let real scientists review all the testimony given by state and local crime lab "experts" over the past 40 years.

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