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The Nazis and Joseph Stalin were famous for their show trials, where "guilt" was determined by the authorities before the trial. From the court jester files, we continue to find that the the American justice system is, well... unjust. No evidence? Make it up. Evidence doesn't support a suspect's guilt? Lie about it so that it does. Science doesn't follow the scientific method? Claim that it's science anyway. Attorney General Roy Cooper called the report "troubling." What do you call it?


The report found that SBI agents withheld exculpatory evidence or distorted evidence in more than 230 cases over a 16-year period. Three of those cases resulted in execution. There was widespread lying, corruption, and pressure from prosecutors and other law enforcement officials on crime lab analysts to produce results that would help secure convictions. And the pressure worked.

A stunning accompanying investigation by the Raleigh News & Observer found that though the crime lab's results were presented to juries with the authoritativeness of science, laboratory procedures were geared toward just one outcome: putting as many people in prison as possible...

Forensic science in America is corrupted by a fundamental conflict of interest...

For those clinging to the notion that analysis in a law enforcement-managed laboratory can be independent, the newspaper uncovered prosecutor reviews of crime lab analysts indicating the contrary...

These weren't a few rogue analysts; the crime lab's problems extend across a wide array of forensic disciplines. Until 1997, the lab's serology unit didn't release negative test results as a matter of policy. If tests showed that a substance that police claimed was blood wasn't in fact blood, analysts simply kept those results to themselves...

The SBI crime lab scandal is only the most recent story of forensics malfeasance. In recent years there have been forensics scandals in Virginia, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Nebraska, California, Michigan, Texas, and at the FBI. And this is only a partial list. At some point, it becomes sensible to conclude that these scandals aren't the result of isolated bad actors, but of a system that produces them...

The methods used in most crime labs disregard critical scientific principles such as blind testing, competency testing, peer review, and statistical analysis. Yet when a forensic specialist testifies in the courtroom, his testimony usually carries the weight and veneer of actual science...

So long as government officials retain that mindset... preventable mistakes will continue to send innocent people to prison, and allow guilty people to remain free.

North Carolina's Corrupted Crime Lab. A damning state report finds systematic abuse, including in death penalty cases


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Aug 31, 2010 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=310

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