North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue has signed into law a series of reforms aimed at restoring credibility to the State Bureau of Investigation and upgrading scientific standards at the state’s crime lab, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. Some changes are symbolic: The lab, formerly the SBI Crime Laboratory, is now the North Carolina Crime Laboratory, to emphasize the point that its scientists work for the public and the entire criminal justice system, not just prosecutors and police.
Others are substantial: The lab must meet the highest international standards, and individual scientists and analysts must be certified in their field and receive regular training and competency tests. “This will raise the competence, integrity, and standards at the lab,” said Christine Mumma of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence. A News & Observer series last August reported widespread problems at the bureau.