An article caught my attention (thanks to our friend Christine Funk) so I wanted to share it with you as it highlights the difference between how far we think we have come versus where we are in reality
Some parts of it I wanted to feature and discuss.
At criminal trials, there is always talk about doubt, reasonable doubt. But in recent years, with the rise of DNA technology and other forensic evidence techniques, many Americans have a growing sense of confidence, if not certainty, that we’re locking up the guilty and freeing the innocent. The backbone of modern justice, it seems, is not a judge in a long, black robe, presiding over a courtroom, but a forensic analyst in a crisp, white coat, laboring over a microscope. In science we trust.
A 2006 survey of more than 1,000 Michigan jurors found that nearly half of the jurors expected to see some sort of scientific evidence in every criminal trial. Nearly 75 percent expected to see scientific evidence presented in murder trials. And still another study, published just this year, found that people trusted such evidence almost blindly. In this study, a random sample of 1,201 potential jurors in California said they considered scientific evidence, like DNA and fingerprints, to be far more reliable than the testimony of police officers, eyewitnesses, or even the victims themselves.
But does forensic evidence really matter as much as we believe? New research suggests no, arguing that we have overrated the role that it plays in the arrest and prosecution of American criminals.
A study, reviewing 400 murder cases in five jurisdictions, found that the presence of forensic evidence had very little impact on whether an arrest would be made, charges would be filed, or a conviction would be handed down in court.
A mere 13.5 percent of the murder cases reviewed actually had physical evidence that linked the suspect to the crime scene or victim. The conviction rate in those cases was only slightly higher than the rate among all other cases in the sample. And for the most part, the hard, scientific evidence celebrated by crime dramas simply did not surface. According to the research, investigators found some kind of biological evidence 38 percent of the time, latent fingerprints 28 percent of the time, and DNA in just 4.5 percent of homicides.
So, this article seems to beg the question: Why do we use forensic evidence at all?
WHAT DO YOU THINK????