The future of forensics.

Those with an interest in forensics
have been waiting for the much touted National Research Council report
on the state of "forensic science" in the U.S.  The National
Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has this to say:

Finding an
inconsistent system rife with “serious deficiencies,” lacking
practitioner and laboratory independence, standards, oversight, and
certification, the NRC called today for major reforms, including the
establishment of a wholly independent federal agency, the National
Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS), to address the manifold problems
with the current science and system.

The report
explicitly recognizes that there’s a world of difference between
forensic science as an investigatory tool or method and proof of
innocence or guilt in court. One example of this type of forensic work
cited the report is forensic odontology. “[F]orensic odontology might
not be sufficiently grounded in science to be admissible under Daubert,
but this discipline might be able to reliably exclude a suspect,
thereby enabling law enforcement to focus its efforts on other
suspects,” according to the report.

With the
exception of nuclear DNA analysis, “no forensic method has been
rigorously shown to be able to consistently, and with a high degree of
certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific
individual or source,” according to the NRC.

The whole report is available at The National Academies.  The news release states:

A congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council
finds serious deficiencies in the nation's forensic science system and
calls for major reforms and new research.

See, 'Badly Fragmented' Forensic Science System Needs Overhaul, 18 February 2009.

A statement of the National District Attorney's Association can be found at their website:  NDAA Reaction to National Academy of Science Study.

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