November 19, 2007

Expose of FBI's bullet lead analysis

Science discredited, but many remain in prison

For those of you who missed the breaking news this weekend, 60 Minutes and the Washington Post released a devastating critique of the sequelae of bullet lead analyses pioneered by the FBI's crime laboratory.

From the CBS website:
Evidence Of Injustice: FBI's Bullet Lead Analysis Used Flawed Science To Convict Hundreds Of Defendants
Aside from eyewitness testimony, some of the most believable evidence presented in criminal cases in the United States comes from the FBI crime laboratory in Quantico, Va. Part of its job is to test and analyze everything from ballistics to DNA for state and local prosecutors around the country, introducing scientific credibility to often murky cases.
But a six-month investigation by 60 Minutes and The Washington Post shows that there are hundreds of defendants imprisoned around the country who were convicted with the help of a now discredited forensic tool, and that the FBI never notified them, their lawyers, or the courts that their cases may have been affected by faulty testimony.

The science, called bullet lead analysis, was used by the FBI for 40 years in thousands of cases, and some of the people it helped put in jail may be innocent....
Related links:

Washington Post website on "Silent Injustice"

FBI press release, issued Saturday, announcing that the FBI will work jointly with the Innocence Project (what a first!) to identify prisoners who may have been wrongfully convicted due to the bunk science

"TAINTING EVIDENCE: Inside the Scandals at the FBI Crime Lab," a 1998 journalistic expose of the FBI crime lab's bungling of the Oklahoma City bombing case and other high-profile cases