In a four-part series being published this week, the Raleigh News and Observer scrutinizes the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. The paper says SBI agents “have cut corners, bullied the vulnerable and twisted reports and court testimony when the truth threatened to undermine their cases.” The bureau is the state’s top law enforcement agency. Its 337 agents assist local police and deputies in investigating the most complicated crimes. The SBI also hosts the state’s crime lab, where analysts use forensic science to solve crimes.
Agents at the crime lab have hidden test results or withheld notes that suggested the opposite of findings presented to the courts, the paper said. Analysts have stretched the boundaries of science and aligned themselves so fully with police and prosecutors that the examiners manipulated evidence to fit their theories. “The documented policies and practices of our state lab support the long-held concern that North Carolina’s lab is the prosecution’s lab, not the justice system’s lab,” said Christine Mumma, executive director of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence, which works to free wrongly convicted prisoners. “Public confidence, judicial confidence and the lives of innocent citizens have been destroyed. It is past time for change.”