This blog has frequently discussed ongoing efforts to make the various disciplines of forensic science more reliable:
Scholarship Saturday: Believe the accused (April 25, 2015)
A recent three-part video series entitled “False Positive”, created by Joss Fong and published by Vox Media, explores the issue anew, through the lens of the 1985 wrongful conviction of Robert Lee Stinson.
At 21 years old, Mr. Stinson was arrested and wrongfully incarcerated for 23 years because of unreliable in-court expert opinion testimony from two government forensic scientists.
Vox may seem a strange source of scholarship. It is described by the New York Times as a “technology company that produces media, as opposed to a media company that uses technology.” It is not, say, a peer-reviewed academic journal.
But, Vox’s work here is thorough, well-researched, and offers well-framed and informed explanations of the complexity involved in any forensic science process. The series focuses on bite mark analysis, but the pitfalls that have bedeviled that field of work are applicable across the forensic science enterprise.
The series revives the question of whether those pitfalls have been adequately addressed since 1985, when jurors were misled, by well-intentioned but insufficiently rigorous prosecutors and judges, into depriving Mr. Stinson a third of his life.
The series can be viewed on YouTube: