In April 2017, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the ending the of the National Commission on Forensic Science (NCFS). The commission, originally started in 2013 under the Obama administration, was a partnership between the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Its purpose was to provide policy recommendations to improve forensic science use in our criminal justice system. For years, our criminal justice has accepted “bad scientific evidence,” such as bite mark analysis, which has led to many wrongful convictions and, in some cases, the execution of innocent individuals. The NCSF was to correct these problems and raise the standard of forensic evidence that could be accepted by our court system. With the dissolving of the NCFS, our criminal justice system is once again at risk of being compromised by bad science.
To promote awareness of these issues and to educate our community on the value of good forensic science, CaSP has made state-level advocacy of forensic science a core issue. As part of this goal, CaSP held a Forensic Science Panel Discussion in October 2017, featuring Shirley Abrahamson (Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice), Alex Wiedenhoeft (Adjunct Associate Professor of Botany), Keith Findley (Cofounder of the Wisconsin Innocence Project), and Kevin Ponto (Assistant Professor in Human Ecology). The panelists shared a plethora of information ranging from the history of forensic science to ways in which wood in crime scenes can be analyzed to aid an investigation. The panelists also introduced terminology such as the Daubert Doctrine and amicus curiae.
Dovetailing off of the information shared by our panelists last fall, CaSP’s social media team will be sharing forensic science related content on our Facebook and Twitter feeds during the months of March and April. In the month of March, CaSP will also be hosting a screening of Marking a Murderer (March 16, 2018; location and time TBD). Please subscribe to our mailing list and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with the details of all of our events.