Uncovering the Flaws of Forensic Science

Forensics can reveal game-changing evidence in criminal investigations, but as a legal expert points out, there are also flaws in the science that have real-world consequences.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are in prison, serving sentences based on forensic evidence like fingerprints, gunfire analysis and even teeth marks. While forensic science can provide crucial evidence during criminal investigations, it’s not perfect and the implications of how highly it is regarded in court proceedings is a problem that can lead to wrongful arrests and life-altering convictions. A new book titled “Autopsy of a Crime Lab: Exposing the Flaws in Forensics,” explores the issues at play and the impact of forensic science in our lives and justice system.

Listen: Duke University Law Professor Brandon L. Garrett on his new book exploring the origins, the uses and the flaws of forensic science.

Andy Davis
Andy Davis


Brandon L. Garrett is a professor at Duke University School of Law, director of the Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law and the author of the newly released book, “Autopsy of a Crime Lab: Exposing the Flaws in Forensics.” 

“Unfortunately, crime labs, people who do forensics work, they’re not independent scientists,” says Garrett, who explains that those people who work in crime labs “may be getting calls from detectives … (with) all sorts of biasing information.”

In looking at the future of forensic evidence in criminal investigations, Garrett says, “this scientific work (needs) to be truly scientific and truly independent.” He adds that there are few crime labs across the country that are independent and free from biasing information or pressures from law enforcement, which is a good start. 


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