Evidence on trial

Science  11 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6278, pp. 1128-1129
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6278.1128

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A report published in 2009 by the U.S. National Research Council found that forensic analysts had long overstated the strength of many types of evidence, including foot- and fingerprints, tire tracks, bullet marks, blood splatters, fire, and handwriting. Many innocent people have ended up behind bars as a result; even DNA evidence, widely seen as the golden standard, can finger the wrong person. This special issue of Science shows that forensic analysts are trying to do better. Many fields are taking a critical look at the value of evidence, testing the accuracy of their methods, and developing new ones that are more science-based. Meanwhile, some scientists are developing the forensic tools of tomorrow.