Monday, March 26, 2007

Crime Lab Oversight

Until I read this story I didn't know there was a federal law related to crime labs and investigative processes. Unfortunately, there is a gap between law and practice.

Tackling critical problems in the nation's justice system, Minnesota, Texas and Virginia have each founded powerful oversight boards in the last two years that can investigate misconduct in crime labs. But not one of the new boards has yet reopened a case -- either because they have refused to do so or because they haven't been funded.

Those pressing for improvements in forensic work, a foundation of criminal investigations and prosecutions, see the states' unwillingness to act as symbolic of the justice system's overall refusal to dig into its own failings. In their view, it's also an outright failure to follow a 2004 federal law requiring some kind of investigative entity. [...]

The steady stream of exonerations and scandals has raised doubts about everything from the handling of DNA evidence to overly broad conclusions from hair and blood comparisons. Discredited beliefs about how to determine arson and faulty conclusions from ballistics testing have added to the questions.

So often people shout about the need for better investigations one minute and then complain about taxes the next. Because taxes have a more immediate impact on our lives, programs that are viewed as hard needs will often suffer even though nobody is opposed to them.

If we want the government at each level to do the jobs we expect, we have to realize that taxes are more than a necessary evil. But funding is far from being the only issue involved here.

Most of us don't like looking bad or incompetent. Politicians are no different. Lack of money can become a handy excuse for doing nothing rather than facing a tough challenge for all to see. This is made worse by those who use any opportunity they can find to spin a politician's tough, but needed decisions into something it isn't.

That involves us because we have the power to refuse to instantly accept slick ads which play into our fears.

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Note: Please don't forget that April 5, 2007 is Blog Against Sexual Violence Day. Click on the link to find out more about how you can join this effort.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   0 comments links to this post


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