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Confronting The Crisis In Forensic Science Labs09:01
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A criminalist works on mitochondrial DNA testing at a State of California Department of Justice laboratory in 2012. (Jeff Chiu/AP)
A criminalist works on mitochondrial DNA testing at a State of California Department of Justice laboratory in 2012. (Jeff Chiu/AP)
This article is more than 2 years old.

There is a crisis in forensic science. Namely: mounting evidence that forensics rely on flawed science and that experts overstate their accuracy in court.

Take for example hair analysis -- once a commonly trusted tool in criminal trials. You know, when an expert would testify that they found strands of hair on the victim that matched the perpetrator. This was before DNA analysis came on the scene. Turns out, hair analysis is very subjective and potentially very flawed, even though it was used by the FBI for more than 30 years.

That is why in 2013, the Obama administration launched the National Commission on Forensic Science, an independent committee charged with improving the reliability of forensics and creating uniform standards across the country.

Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions disbanded the commission. Sessions said the Justice Department will conduct its own review of forensic science.

Guest

Suzanne Bell, chemistry and forensic science professor at West Virginia University. She's also a former member of the now-defunct National Commission on Forensic Science.

This segment aired on May 2, 2017.

Meghna Chakrabarti Twitter Host, On Point
Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of On Point.

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Kathleen McNerney Twitter Senior Producer / Editor, Edify
Kathleen McNerney is senior producer/editor of Edify.

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