exclusive focus on Strengthening Forensic Science
The Center for Integrity in Forensic Sciences has two principal functions. The first is to bring together distinguished academic scientists and legal professionals to collaborate on problems, processes, and policy in a way that no organization yet has attempted systematically. This will lead to better public policy advocacy and, CIFS believes, to legislation and judicial action that will strengthen the accuracy and reliability of forensic science in the courtroom.
The second is strategic litigation, either through direct representation, case consultation, or amicus brief support, in cases that raise serious concerns about forensic science testimony whether innocence directly is in issue or not. CIFS recognizes that, in the end, the innocence or guilt of one defendant cannot be the only criterion by which the adequacy and soundness of forensic science work and testimony will be judged. This second function will involve the active use and supervision of law students and natural science undergraduate and graduate students, all interested in interdisciplinary studies.
CIFS will begin an inaugural course at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in the fall semester of 2019. A curriculum will also be developed that can be adapted for use at other universities for graduate and undergraduate science students to research and test many currently employed forensic evidence techniques that have never before been scientifically validated.
In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report, “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States,” which noted that most forensic science disciplines that attempt to match crime scene evidence to suspects rely on subjective judgments by crime lab analysts, without adequate research as to the limits and measures of performance or the effects of potential bias and errors shown to exist in all human observers. The NAS recommended each forensic science field develop rigorous protocols to guide these subjective interpretations and that they also develop research and evaluation programs. Nearly ten years after the NAS report, little progress has been made, due to lack of funding or resistance in the law enforcement and crime laboratory communities. CIFS programs employed at independent universities nationwide can help remedy this deficiency and allow courts to exclude those forensic evidence techniques and testimony which have no scientific validity.