A panel of experts looking into the reliability of CSI tests has heard damning evidence against some of the most common techniques used to convict killers, rapists, and other criminals, reports the New York Post. The analysis of fingerprints, tire tracks, and bite marks isn’t nearly so reliable as researchers once believed, crime-scene specialists told the panel. Some even called it junk science. Many said major changes would be necessary if crime labs want to continue using the evidence.
The National Academy of Sciences report isn’t due out until December, but forensic expert Barry Scheck said it could have major implications. “There were some serious questions raised about the reliability of certain disciplines – bite impressions, tire tracks and automatic fingerprint identification,” he said. “I’m assuming they’re going to make some big recommendations about how standards are set. A lot of people are anticipating a fairly far-reaching examination of forensic science.” The $1 million effort to assess forensic work is not final; the academy’s report is undergoing a peer review now. It’s already being viewed as a major potential challenge to the fundamentals of crime-scene investigation. One example: “Bite marks probably ought to be the poster child for bad forensic science,” said expert David Faigman.