August 19th, 2009
06:30 PM ET

Photo Gallery: Samples of forensic evidence

Editor’s note: Dr. Sanjay Gupta goes inside a crime lab where he learns how reliable forensic evidence can be in investigating criminal cases. A recent report by the National Academy of Science, issued a scathing assessment of the forensics field. The report indicated that "with the exception of nuclear DNA analysis, no forensic method has been rigorously shown able to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source." Much of forensic science –with the exception of DNA and toxicology testing - is not backed by clinical study and most forensic crime labs are unregulated. The Innocence Project, a public policy organization, works to overturn wrongful convictions based on DNA evidence.

The Innocence Project

These forensic “impressions” were used to wrongfully convict a man of kidnapping and rape when he was 23. He was recently released from prison at the age of 43.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Bob

    Actually a great deal of crime labs are regulated. Reputable crime laboratories seek accreditation by several different organizations.

    August 20, 2009 at 7:32 am |
  2. Coy Lane

    I agree with Jo Ann. If there is shoddy evidence the case should be re-examined. I just read abook and in a section its talks about a man that may have been wrongfully executed because of shoddy evidence.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:44 am |
  3. Elizabeth Lott

    Interesting news items regarding Dr Steven Hayne in Mississippi. Please review the following news report link (regarding the Tyler Edmonds case and others). Dr Hayne should be in jail or at the very least disbarred from any medical practice, especially forensic pathology. http://www.reason.com/news/show/122458.html

    Dr Steven Hayne has ruined and or damaged enough lives! It is a travisty of justice BOTH for the victims AND the accused to have so called "experts" like him, testifying in cases in our state. The creepy part is that because of his many years of questionable testimony, some who did the crime may now get freedom. The sicking part is that the truly innocent, may stay locked up due to his incompetence...and the guilty may be still walking or about to walk; free. Thank God some of the injustices have been corrected. The state of Mississippi needs many reforms in the justice system, especially for our young people.

    B L, West Point, MS

    PS...PLEASE use only my initials or first name. Thank you. Please see the information in the link.

    August 20, 2009 at 1:09 am |
  4. LeAnn Pollard

    JoAnn at North 'Royalton,OH needs to check out her facts about Barry Scheck. She has it all wrong. Far, far too many people have been convicted and served time in prison that were not guilty; more than anyone wants to believe. These labs should absolutely be regulated and updated at any cost. My fiance has been wrongly convicted and is still in prison 20 years after the crime. No DNA available. No one will help except the Innocence Project.

    August 20, 2009 at 12:08 am |
  5. Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio

    This sounds like an interesting report. Obviously forensic evidence is only as good as the people who collect and analyze it. It is difficult to believe that these labs are unregulated. If that is true why isn't it easier to get evidence thrown out of court?

    Although I think that any case based on shoddy evidence should be re-examined and new technology should be made available where applicable, I am not so sure I completely trust The Innocence Project because they have a very specific agenda, to get people released at any cost. Also it is run by Barry Scheck, a member of the O.J. defense team and I would seriously question the motivation of any organization connected to that bunch.

    August 19, 2009 at 8:04 pm |
  6. julie c

    impressions of what?

    August 19, 2009 at 7:34 pm |
  7. cathy mckinney

    Ilike following you keep me up to date

    August 19, 2009 at 7:05 pm |
  8. Annie Kate

    What exactly are we looking at? And what was it suppose to show? To me it could be anything or nothing at all.

    August 19, 2009 at 6:34 pm |