Friday, February 22, 2013

Improving forensic laboratories: "The time has come for a forensic laboratory improvement act." Robert L. Stevenson. American Laboratory.

STORY: "The time has come for a forensic laboratory improvement act," by Robert L. Stevenson, published in American Laboratory on January 15, 2013.

GIST: "Forensic laboratories are relied upon to provide science-based evidence for a variety of purposes and stakeholders. Since people’s lives are involved, the reports generated need to be based on the best available science and practices. Findings from the forensic laboratory need to be free from even the suspicion of conflict of interest. According to a report by the National Academy of Science (NAS) in 2009, forensic labs and their assays often fail to live up to this expectation.1 As stated in the report, “The forensic science disciplines currently are an assortment of methods and practices used in both the public and private arenas. Forensic science facilities exhibit wide variability in capacity, oversight, staffing, certification, and accreditation across federal and state jurisdictions. Too often they have inadequate educational programs, and they typically lack mandatory and enforceable standards founded on rigorous research and testing, certification requirements, and accreditation programs.” The report criticizes what is viewed as the isolation, perhaps even ignorance, on the part of forensic laboratories on advances in the best available technology. “The forensic science system is underresourced also in the sense that it has only thin ties to an academic research base that could support the forensic science disciplines and fill knowledge gaps.”1 The NAS also added: “The committee thus concluded that the problems at issue are too serious and important to be subsumed by an existing federal agency,” and “No existing federal agency has the capacity or appropriate mission to take on the roles and responsibilities needed to govern and improve the forensic science enterprise.”

The entire story can be found at:

See also: "A great article in American Laboratory": Justin McShane. The Truth About Forensic Science: "More and more mainstream press are publicizing the situation. Hopefully, there will come a tipping point. We need commutability. We need standards. We need science in forensic science, and not science fiction."


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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:

Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.