Is Forensic Science Becoming Fragmanted and Less Reliable?

While most agree that forensic science is a critical element of the criminal justice system, there are increasing expressions of concern as to whether it is becoming fragmanted, less reliable, and urgently needs an infusion of financial and research support in order to remain viable.

These and related concerns have been discussed in a variety of books, journals as well as the web media. Of particular interest to many is the National Academy of Sciences Report on Forensics which addresses directly many of the points mentioned above. While I cannot link directly to that Report here I can link to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) catalog where you can purchase a copy: . There may be a free summary available at that site. The NAS Report is also discussed in some depth in an American Judicature Society Editorial at Also recommended is the Comments on the Release of the NAS Report on Forensic Sciences by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD).

Recognizing the growing concern and importane of viable forensics, the New York Times has devoted most of the Science Section of its May 12, 2009 issue to what it calls the “New Forensics”. This issue contains a wide selection of articles addressing various aspects of forensic science as related to criminal justice. Links to a few are included in the listings below:”

Plugging the Holes in the Science of Forensics. by Henry Fountain. “A push in forensic science for the kind of rigorous peer-related research that is the hallmark of classic science.”

In the Lab, An Ever-Growing Database of DNA Profiles,” by Solomon Moore “The FBI’s National Index System, a database of 6.7million genetic profiles is the world’s largest repository of DNA information.”

“Tracking Cyberspies Through the Web Wildnerness” by John Markoff “Cyberforensics is a new genre of detective work that presents immense technical challenges.”

“Judging Honesty by Words, Not Fidgets” by Benedict Carey “Identifying the telling clues in the accounts of liars.

Speech Patterns in Message Betray a Killer by Elizabeth Swoboda “…He knew Julie was always careful to let her children know where she would be and he couldn’t shake a feeling that something was off about the text messages.”

Contact Information