Criminal Justice  and “Alternate Facts”

Criminal Justice and “Alternate Facts”

Writing in the Washington Post, Radley Balko points out that the American criminal justice is system is mired in its own tarpit of ‘alternative facts’ arising out of shortcomings and mistakes in the world of forensics. Ten years ago the National Academy of Sciences first drew sharp attention to the problem; since then there have been numerous follow up studies on both the state and national level . There can be no doubt — bad forensics is a serious problem in this country.

To learn more, check out these lengthy studies at  Voxthe Nation and NBC News. These all bring focus on the key point, which Balko summarizes as:

Many of the forensic disciplines used in courtrooms across the United States are unreliable and entirely subjective, using methods unsupported by scientific research. Forensic malfeasance has even crept into the plots of TV police and legal dramas. The crisis in expert testimony seems to be resonating just about everywhere except for the one place it’s most crucial: in courtrooms. But the problem is bigger than forensics and junk science. It isn’t that the courts have been duped by phony expertise or quackery; it’s that the criminal justice system has evolved to disregard its own mistakes. Courts rarely correct themselves, even when they get something fundamentally wrong. And because they make their own rules, there’s no one to tell them to get it right.

Read the rest of what Balko has to say at Washington Post:

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