Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New York Times Coverage of Forensic Sciences

This week, The New York Times is running a series of articles regarding the ability of certain forensic sciences to make accurate conclusions. The Indignant Indigent has written in the past about two forensic sciences that are very important to criminal investigations, but often produce faulty or skewed results.

First, the Indignant Indigent has reported on the growing tide of skepticism regarding the field of firearm and toolmark identification. The New York Times covers the subject here. The article includes remarks from various scientists who conclude that firearm and toolmark examination has not been properly supported by independent scientific research and who further conclude that the field is lacking in statistical support for its most basic claims.

Second, the Indignant Indigent has reported on the various techniques used by law enforcement to extract confessions from criminal suspects (commonly known as the "Reid Technique"). The New York Times reports on new studies which call into question some of the Reid Techniques' basic assumptions. The article is available here.

The articles also contain an internet podcast of a discussion between experts in various forensic sciences.