Sunday May 19, 2013
Legislation Would Help Prevent Wrongful ConvictionsMadeline deLone Special to Salem-News.com
The Innocence Project urges Congress to act quickly.
(WASHINGTON DC) - Lawmakers in both houses of Congress introduced legislation that will help prevent wrongful convictions by bringing reliable, science-based standards to forensic evidence.
Leaders of both the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Science Committee took a tremendous step towards improving the criminal justice system by introducing legislation that would ensure that forensic sciences are based on the best science.
The bills would put experts working at science-based agencies in charge of conducting research to ensure that forensic science disciplines have a strong scientific backing and are governed by consistent and meaningful standards.
The bills are designed to address problems that were outlined in a 2009 National Academy of Sciences report that found that, with the sole exception of DNA evidence, none of traditional forensic science disciplines – including hair microscopy, fingerprint, bullet and bloodstain analysis – have been scientifically validated.
This has resulted in practices that both hamper law enforcement’s ability to solve crimes and that have led to wrongful convictions. Faulty forensics have contributed to a staggering 50% of the DNA exonerations.
I am especially thankful to the lead sponsors of the two bills, Sen. John D. Rockefeller and Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Donna Edwards and Daniel Lipinski.
The Innocence Project urges Congress to act quickly to pass this legislation and to develop and support mechanisms for the practical implementation of the resulting research and standards.
Madeline deLone is Executive Director of the Innocence Project
Special thanks to Kim Pettit
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