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Bad forensics

April 25, 2015

Here’s an article from the Washington Post about problems with forensic hair analysis. Many folks have been pointing out the pseudo-scientific nature of hair analysis, bite-mark analysis, and the like. for some time now. It’s good to see it getting more attention.

FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades

The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions. […]

The State is not always or necessarily your protector.

H.T. Paul

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