Forensics is a field of science that dates back to the 6th century. However, questions have been raised within the legal circles concerning its reliability as far as it is used in coming up with convictions. In the recent past, much post-conviction exoneration has taken place after the revisiting of old cases, which featured forensic evidence as a primary cause of a guilty verdict. Recent DNA analysis has proved past verdicts wrong (Gabel 286). This kind of outcome has led to the questioning of the reliability of forensic data in the criminology process. However, it is also very apparent that the finer details of evidence may be vague at times such that the criminal justice practitioners can only make reasonable or just conclusions through DNA analysis or other forensic methodologies. Therefore, the focus of this project is to examine the positive and negative impacts that forensics has had on the criminal justice system. The paper will also state whether the liabilities that are associated with this genre of science are worth the benefits that accrue from its use. To achieve this objective, it is necessary to apply comparative research, which also features a brief analysis of the forensic framework of Britain, which is a jurisdiction that had to overhaul the legal framework of its forensics system to make it more scientific and less of mere conjecture (Gabel 290). The intention of including the case study is to shed light on what the American federal government can do to optimize the impact of forensics on the criminal justice system. Following the advancement of research, it has become apparent that the use of forensics is unavoidable, despite the few instances where it has been proved faulty and unreliable. Forensics is useful, especially if comprehensive laws are developed to govern the criminal justice system. In conclusion, the paper briefly discusses the need for centralization or the formation of an oversight organization to reduce the liabilities that result from the application of forensic analysis in the criminal justices system.
Forensics is a scientific genre that has been in existence since the mid 6th century. However, current researchers such as Gabel claim that the study is built on many unproven and untested theories (286). For instance, the fingerprinting methodologies that are used to convict suspects are based on the assumption that no two thumbprints are alike. This largely assumptive notion has been generalized to the extent that it has become difficult for researchers to prove its reliability. Moreover, the precedent on convictions that came because of the fingerprinting evidence proves that it is possible to find fingerprints at the crime scene that do not necessarily prove absolute guilt. One of the reasons for the continued use of forensic sciences, despite its apparent flaws, is the theory that it is rather better to have ten guilty persons walk free than to convict an innocent person wrongfully. Further research by Epps proves that the calculated risk of using a faulty method is far greater to the criminal justice system, especially in terms of sustaining public trust through the reliability of the system, as opposed to the reverse proposition of acquitting guilty persons (1066). Based on these highlights, this paper investigates the adverse effects of applying forensic sciences on criminal justice. The goal is not only to use the results of the study to come up with a clearer position of the stakes but also to point out the possible solutions to this ethical dilemma.
Since the study applies the comparative study methodology to investigate the various research projects that have already been conducted by other scholars, the paper focuses on several sources whose content will help to build a substantial-conclusion concerning the impact of forensics on the criminal justice system. These secondary sources include Daniel Epps’ article The Consequences of Error in Criminal Justice. The article was featured in the Harvard Criminal Review. According to Epps, most of the criminal justice masses ascribe to Blackstone’s theory of saving one blameless individual at the cost of ten or more guilty persons perhaps because the criminal justice systems have overlooked some poignant factors that were previously not apparent to researchers about the earlier Blackstone Principle (1067). Consequently, Epps uses the dynamic perception, which creates a less myopic perspective, by focusing instead on the effect of this Blackstone perspective on the criminal justice system as a whole, instead of simply focusing on the innocent person’s rights since they are the minority. Roger Koppl and Meghan Sacks’ article, The Criminal Justice System Creates Incentives for false conviction is educative and relevant to this study based on its discussion about the occasional risk of lack of integrity in the criminal justice system, especially as criminal labs are occasionally funded per conviction (Koppl and Sacks 130). The matter of funding becomes a critical issue that influences the decisions that are made in court, regardless of the evidence that lab specialists provide. Linking this observation to forensics raises the question of the funding of the United States forensics departments. Such departments are largely lacking in terms of organized funding. The absence of a centralized framework reveals the lack of an allotment in the US national budget. Hence, the witnessed unreliability of the forensic findings in the criminal justice section may be attributed to improper funding.
Similarly, Jessica Gabel’s article, Realizing Reliability in Forensic Science from the Ground Up is helpful in this study. It provides a fresher perspective that originates from the understanding that forensic science is indeed largely flawed and that some jurisdictions have managed to transform their forensic networks into working systems (Gabel 283). Gabel asserts that people need to look at the good that forensics does in the criminal justice system instead of focusing on its weaknesses (284). The author recommends the need for collaboration between the criminal justice system, researchers, universities, and other involved parties to improve the quality of forensic results. Gabel substantiates her claims by providing a scenario in Britain where this approach has brought about positive results (283). The case study will be discussed later in this research.
Salvatore, Markowitz, and Kelly’s article Assessing Public Confidence in the Criminal Justice System is also a revelation of the various factors that contribute to people’s trust or distrust that is apportioned to any criminal justice system (3). This article backs up the research that was done by Daniel Epps in pointing out the actual greater perspective of the effect of a faulty system on the nation’s confidence in its criminal justice system. It points out how small and simple discrepancies within the police force can cause a failure of trust for the entire system of justice as far as local incivilities are concerned (Salvatore, Markowitz, and Christopher 5). The editorial note The Dual Relationship Problem on Forensics and Correctional Practice: Community Protection or Offender Welfare by Tony Ward is an insightful article that examines the cause of disagreement between the field of forensics and criminal justice (34). He proposes that both professionals have a common ground that is governed by quality and reliable forensic findings. However, Ward asserts that the concern comes in the professional or ethical codes for each respective field since the codes vary based on their individual foundational and governing principles (35). On the one hand, one field is more concerned about the community’s welfare while the other field’s interests lie in protecting the offenders’ welfare (Ward 35). These two parallel definitions of their purpose often breed contention because either of the fields can easily step over the set boundaries to the detriment of the other party. Erin Murphy’s article ‘The New Forensics: Criminal Justice, False Certainty, and the Second Generation of Scientific Evidence’ gives a thorough review of the developments in the field of forensics. Murphy asserts that the media is regarding the new developments in forensics such as DNA typing, location tracking, biometric technologies, and data mining among others as being handy tools for exonerating falsely accused persons who have been victims of the previously flawed evidence collection regimes of fingerprinting and hairsplitting (729). Murphy demarcates the forensics methodologies into two segments, namely the first and second-generation forensics (729). The second category comprises the most modern forensic practices. According to Murphy, if not properly managed, the same traps that caused the fall in the grace of the first generation forensics methods will cause an even harder fall for the second-generation forensic methods (743). The solution lies in the specific consideration of the peculiarities of the second-generation forensics and/or customizing solutions and remedies that are adapted to its uniqueness. ‘The National Trajectory Project of Individuals Found not criminally responsible on account of Mental Disorder in Canada. Part 3: Trajectories and Outcomes through the Forensic System’ is an article by Crocker, Charette, Seto, Nicholls, Cote, and Caulet (117-126). The article offers a case study that was conducted within Quebec Province to look into the effect of forensics on certain cases that dealt with people who had psychological disarrays. The research spanned a duration of five years where the researchers gathered meaningful information on the effect of forensic input on the criminal process (Crocker et al. 119). In their findings, one of the things that Crocker et al. reveal is the reduced time that it takes to process offenders through the justice system when court officials use forensics to gather evidence or to analyze the available data (110). However, Crocker et al. also confirm several limitations to their study, including the fact that they could not record any hearing information and that they had to wait for the court bailiff to process it through the system for them to access it (112). Besides, the delayed data analysis might attract certain changes that tamper with the validity of the expected results. The article reveals how effective the Quebec province is in terms of implementing a working forensics program. This paper relies much on this article to suggest the available alternatives in the American justice system if the present forensics frameworks were to be overhauled.
In the article What does Kafka tell us about the American Criminal Justice, Darryl Brown critically reviews the American justice system in the light of what the novelist Kafka wrote in his novel ‘The Trial’ concerning the issue of forensics in the criminal justice system (490). Brown also utilizes Robert Burns’ viewpoints to draw parallels between the satiric characters and the processes of the American legal system (Brown 490). Brown’s article reveals contingent risks in the legal system such as the dangers of having more than fifty percent potential cases progressing from police interrogation to plea-bargaining (494). According to Brown, such actions rob the offenders of their rightful trials, especially considering that some laws make it legal for prosecutors to lie to defenders to extract testimonies by exaggerating the amount of possible sentencing in the case of a guilty verdict (495). Some US prosecutors have an allowance to show leniency to covert undercover police. Brown reveals these examples to substantiate his claims about the existence of flaws in the American justice system (495). Consequently, he recommends bureaucracy as a possible solution, as opposed to democracy. This article is a great help for the present research. In fact, based on the record of a botched execution by the court system, it is clear that contemporary criminal justice agencies need the intervention of forensics and actual trials since forensics not only necessitates full trials but also minimizes the likelihood of plea-bargaining.
This research conducts a comparative study of various primary and secondary sources. As such, the paper investigates various articles that highlight the impact that forensic information has on the criminal justice system. The initial search was done on more than ten thousand possible articles. However, after a refined search, the study focused on the first 100 articles. One of the assumptions that were made in the selection of the first one hundred articles was that they reflected the most relevant information concerning the subject. The basis of this assumption was the fact that the articles appeared to have been accessed several times. Hence, one of the factors that governed the particular command was the frequency of other researchers’ reference to the articles in the past two years. Consequently, it was safe to assume that these search results were most probable. After scanning the articles, it became apparent that about 56 of them were strictly discussing either forensics or the criminal justice system without any intersection points. These sources were discarded.
The remaining forty articles were almost preferable. However, twenty-one of them were not available in any online libraries. Since they were only available in hard copies, they were also left out was out. The search was then left with nineteen articles. Only eight of them were deemed the most relevant to the current study based on their depth of research and availability. Besides, they were peer-reviewed articles. This study involved a lot of reading through large volumes of materials in an attempt to decipher the exact position of the impact of forensics in the criminal justice system. Given this broad and general subject, it was easy to wallow into numerous theories and principles that other researchers had noted along the way. However, the paper chose a simpler technique of looking into the positive and the negative impacts that forensics has had on the criminal justice system before suggesting the probable solutions for optimal balance in this crucial relationship.
The strength of this research methodology lies in the availability of raw data that can be considered reliable because the articles are peer-reviewed. Many researchers have looked into these related fields from different perspectives. This methodology helps in combining the insights into an organized thesis. Moreover, inherent in its comparative approach is an automatic error checker that helps to determine the authenticity of the source based on the available criticism from other commentators concerning the content that an author presents to the public. A possible weakness of this method is the witnessed reduced interaction with any primary source since the research does not involve any practical fieldwork. Hence, the paper reports on studies that have been conducted by other scholars, including a margin of secondary error, which would be the case if this research had assumed any errors that the other researchers had committed in their research. To mitigate these errors, the paper relies on peer-reviewed sources to guarantee a balance between the positive and the negative impacts of forensics on the criminal justice system.
Results of the Study or Creative Project Summary
Forensic evidence and the application of forensic sciences are crucial parts of the criminal investigation and prosecution processes in any working criminal justice department around the world (Neubauer and Fradella 13). In the criminal justice system, forensics helps to provide important evidence that includes:
- Proving the commission of a crime
- Placing a suspect in contact with the scene of a crime or the victim of the crime
- Proving the innocence of a suspect
- Examining the testimony of the victim
- Helping in the identification of the persons who are linked to the crime
- Assisting in the establishment of facts that relate to how the event occur together with factors that fuel the occurrence
The criminal justice system depends on forensics to provide important information that can be used to exonerate a suspect or prove beyond reasonable doubt that a suspect is guilty of a given crime (Cole, Smith, and DeJong 25). For prosecutors, forensics helps to provide essential evidence or the ‘smoking gun’, which denotes the substantiation that helps to remove any doubts concerning a suspect’s guiltiness of the crime. The credibility of a criminal justice system is based on its ability to prosecute a case and/or make justified sentences to people who are found guilty while at the same exonerating those who are confirmed blameless. To ensure that forensics can achieve the above parameters, the criminal justice system considers different pieces of evidence for each case to identify unique aspects that can help to yield a justified case determination (Neubauer and Fradella 14). Forensics provides an important avenue through which criminal justice accesses various pieces of evidence that can help to prosecute the cases that are brought forward to the system. Various authorities around the world have developed several forensic typologies, which help to identify the evidence that is provided during prosecution proceedings in courts of law.
The first typology of forensic evidence is the biological evidence where the most common biological sample is blood and saliva (Cole, Smith, and DeJong 28). Collecting biological evidence allows DNA profiling of the suspects and victims who form a major part of the criminal justice proceedings. The second type of forensic evidence is fingerprint evidence. In this case, the evidence is divided into 10 comprehensive or suppressed prints where the former indicates the availability of all prints for both hands from a victim or a suspect while the latent prints indicate the availability of one or more prints of an individual. The prints are mostly obtained through the powdering technique on weapons, surfaces, or vehicles. The third typology of forensic evidence is the weapon evidence, which may include bombs, weapons, shooting deposits (GSR) tests, and knives (Cole, Smith, and DeJong 28). The GSR tests are important in determining whether the suspect was near the weapon at the time of the shooting. Drugs evidence is another type of forensic substantiation, which includes chemicals and drug supplies that are found at the site of crime (Cole, Smith, and DeJong 29). On the other hand, impressions evidence includes shoe marks, utensil inscription, and tire pathways among others. Another forensic evidence typology involves natural or synthetic materials, which include carpet cuttings, metallic objects, bed materials, clothing, plastic papers, and bath materials. Other types of forensic evidence include generic objects, electronic facts, which may not fit in any of the above categorizations. Generic objects include bicycles, vehicles, doors, wood, concrete, and containers (Cole, Smith, and DeJong 29). On the other hand, electronic facts include computers, discs, cell phones, and documents.
The classification of forensic evidence into the above categories is very important in helping in the labeling and identification of evidence during prosecution proceedings, which greatly helps to make it easy for criminal justice systems to give the right verdict. In criminal justice, forensic evidence is of significant value since it adds probative evidence to the criminal justice proceedings (Neubauer and Fradella 16). In the law field, the term probative is used to mean that any substantiation that is presented in a court of law in a given court trial must prove a claim that relates to the proceedings. Forensic evidence is a valuable approach to providing such verification, which greatly assists the criminal justice to determining cases (Cole, Smith, and DeJong 37). For instance, biological evidence can help to determine that an individual was indeed the perpetrator of a given crime such as rape or murder among others. Such a conclusion may be arrived at after a DNA profiling of blood or seminal fluids that are linked to the individual beyond reasonable doubt concerning his or her culpability.
The criminal justice system is not only mandated with proving that an individual is guilty. It is also tasked with exonerating or acquitting innocent individuals of any accusations concerning a crime (Neubauer and Fradella 21). In this case, the use of forensics allows the defense in a court of law to prove that the accused is not guilty of the presented accusations. A good criminal justice system must remain impartial. It should make judgments depending on the provided evidence. If such evidence is not adequate or does not link the suspect to a crime, it is justified to acquit such an individual (Cole, Smith, and DeJong 38). The forensic evidence can help to confirm that an individual is indeed blameless. Forensic evidence is an integral part of any criminal justice system since it helps to ensure that justice is achieved at all times using fairness as the central tenet.
Analysis of the available research on the impact of forensics on the criminal justice system makes it apparent that the role that forensics plays in the criminal justice system is indispensable. The field of forensics is plagued with its fair share of flaws. However, it is crucial to note that no evidence is verifiable by theory or oral witnesses alone. The availability of scientific evidence brings much greater certainty and reassurance to all the participating parties. The prosecutor and the judge can rest peacefully after convicting someone whom they are sure is guilty beyond reasonable doubt as evidenced by scientific analysis. The accused person’s family can take the given sentence because it has been proved logically beyond doubt. Since science is believed to be absolute and precise, the court judges do not give any chance for further questioning on issues such as DNA findings that are given through forensic mechanisms. However, regardless of the certainty that forensic science is associated with, is it also viewed as being unreliable. For instance, Gabel’s position on the report that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) published six years ago stating that the field of Forensics is crippled is a great cause for alarm (283). The report reveals that forensics is not a science but rather a field that is packed with assumptions and/or generalized conjectures within its foundational principles (Gabel 284). As an example, Gabel proves wrong the assumption that no two fingerprints are alike (284). For a long time, this supposition was taken as absolute truth that was used to convict many offenders. This misunderstanding has been detrimental to the forensics field largely because almost all involved parties are laying blame on the forensics experts. However, the fingerprint approach is counterproductive since the forensics experts and the criminal justice system should authenticate the given evidence before receiving and publicizing it. In any case, the forensic experts have little blame to carry since the only reason why contemporary people are aware of the flaws in the forensics field is that researchers such as Gabel have been advancing to the extent that they have moved to correct the detected errors with good faith.
Murphy’s research provides a possible solution, which might require the overhaul of the national forensics framework (722). The refurbishing should then be followed by borrowing from the British and even Canadian jurisdictions to reorganize and properly address the infrastructural needs, including centralized funding and an oversight body that should be in charge of ensuring accuracy, precision, and common practice throughout the US forensics department (Crocker et al. 124). If properly implemented, this change can clear most of the flaws that are presently associated with forensics. However, does it mean that no more inconsistencies will appear after the overhaul? A study of the contingencies that are associated with forensic science regards the nature of the problem as not only singular but also one that transcends centuries because forensics studies have been in existence for more than fourteen centuries. The current problem that is being combated is only a mutation of the original problem. Conversely, doing away with forensics totally as an alleged solution will be both myopic and unrealistic because the criminal justice system needs the extra precision or certainty, that forensics can afford. However, keeping the same policies is also detrimental because it will lead to a loss of public confidence in the accuracy of the evidence that is adduced by forensics experts. By extension, the credibility of the criminal justice system will be questioned. Hence, the situation calls for a diplomatic solution to the problem to amend the forensics framework so that it can perform optimally and satisfactorily to all the concerned parties.
The Blackstone principle holds that it is wise for several blameworthy persons to be freed from a fault, as opposed to letting one blameless individual be convicted erroneously (Epps 1066). With this theory in mind, forensics is a double-edged weapon that can either defend or offend, depending on how it is handled and dispatched. The ‘double tragedy’ is a variable that is inherent in the Blackstone principle. The variable explains why it is more dangerous to convict a guiltless person than to acquit a guilty one. In other words, it is more dangerous to have an innocent person suffer wrongfully for crimes he or she did not commit because it makes vengeance a more likely reaction from such a person, the family, or associates. When compared to the possibility of acquitting a guilty person, the rightfully convicted individuals have a greater appeal than the justified indignation of the falsely condemned innocent people. A reflection on the actual detriment of a false conviction indicates that the damage is catastrophic to the criminal justice system as a whole since it causes a loss of people’s confidence in the justice system. The situation can result in lawlessness. Therefore, a ripple effect might be a blow to all the functions of any nation that is careless to the extent that it ignores such a sensitive criminal justice issue.
Based on this risky situation, forensics technology has offered a semblance of certainty by guaranteeing that the verdicts will be right up to 99% where the remaining 1% indicates that the scientific proof may be irrefutable. However, some forensics theories cannot withstand the test of time or advanced technology. Nevertheless, the courtyard has not justified a complete overthrow of the entire program. Much of the public confidence that presently accrues in the criminal justice system comes from the seemingly insurmountable hurdles that the legal system has overcome to serve justice only with the aid of forensics, without which, more innocent people would have continued to suffer unjust incarceration (Gabel 304). Forensic science has helped the criminal justice system in terms of reducing the time and costs of handling a case. Hence, forensics remains indispensable to the success and efficacy of the criminal justice system. Whereas forensics is not a novel concept, its infrastructure, which is technology, is dynamic and ever-evolving. In the past century, unprecedented technological advances have led to evolution even in criminal circles. The implication is that forensics experts have had little or no time to grow into the role that the world expects them to play. Modern technology is now exposing millions of errors that are inherent in what was previously termed as absolute truth. Many assumptions are being nullified by the day. Many people are now questioning the forensics study because its foundational principles are flawed.
Forensics is currently known for both good and bad outcomes in the criminal justice system. One of the good issues that it handles is the increase in public trust that it brings to the criminal justice system. Technological development is advancing at an unprecedented momentum. This advancement is accelerating the frequency of gross and yet ‘smart’ crimes. The situation calls for an update of the criminal justice system to match the presented needs. With this observation in mind, only forensic science can be deployed to handle the cases almost perfectly because plain old legal terminologies and precedents are not enough to solve the problem. Hence, the complementary role of forensics is indispensable. The public demand for forensic intervention has also quadrupled over the past century. More people have realized that it is possible to appreciate truth by applying forensic evidence such as DNA typing, location tracking, biometric technologies, and data mining among others. Various reasons have been established to support such a public display of trust. The most apparent reason is the mass production of forensics-oriented television shows. The Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) show offers a working illustration of the applicability of forensics. As people watch the criminology drama, their notion of the indispensable role of forensics has taken deep root. Hence, when a criminal justice system embraces forensics, its publics richly merit it. Issues such as the efficiency and merit that forensic applications avail in the criminal justice systems have made the subject vital. Modifying forensic information can cause a great loss to the criminal justice system. Many reasons have also been established to explain the continued application of forensics in the criminal justice system, despite the losses that the justice structure has so far suffered due to the earlier absolute trust in forensics.
The positive impact of forensics gravitates around the certainty that scientific evidence avails to the criminal justice system, as well as the public, in terms of accurately placing a specific suspect squarely on the crime scene. Hence, people, especially judges, can have peace of mind after rightly convicting one to a death sentence as long as there is irrefutable evidence of his or her guilt. Forensics has also increased the self-assurance that the public reposes in the criminal justice systems. History evidences more people who went to court and requested their legal representatives to use forensics in their defense. This observation reveals how the public trusts the forensic science that has been adopted to make the criminal justice system more effective. Currently, forensics movies such as CSI have become popular (Salvatore, Markowitz, and Christopher 6). The producers have created an ideal perception of forensics to levels that leave the public with no option other than embracing forensic findings.
Whereas this publicity has been good in terms of increasing the levels of confidence in this scientific method, it also has downsides, which include the unrealistic levels of confidence that legal practitioners and even scientists have in the system of forensics methods. At times, some of these practices are built on assumptions that have been neither peer-reviewed nor comparatively researched. The adopted suppositions have only been passed down the centuries as forensics theories. However, because of publicity, the criminal justice system risks public scorn because advanced research is disproving assumptions that forensics specialists have previously made and relied upon forensics theories. As a result, people have questioned the credibility of the evidence that forensics labs have presented in the past since unfounded substantiation has interfered with the authenticity of the verdicts that are passed in law courts.
The other aggravating issue relates to the funding of the labs. The fact that crime labs are at times funded depending on the number of convictions has been a reason for more gross errors, which are not only intended but also well calculated. It is clear that forensics is necessary, especially given the technological advancements that have caused the exacerbation of ‘genius’ criminals. This claim means that although the flaws in forensics have caused the criminal justice much grief, it is not beyond remedy.
This research proposes a collaborative effort between the central government, the criminal justice systems, research authorities, and universities to bring about the reproach standards of forensics that will restore the forensics and the criminal justice department. The new generation of scientific methods has revolutionized the field of forensics (Murphy 722). In fact, the new methodologies have helped to expose the inaccuracies of the traditional forensic science methodologies, including the negligence of the criminal justice system in authenticating the evidence that forensic experts have presented since time immemorial. Hence, modern generation forensics has a lot of confidence in its invincibility. However, as part of the solution to the present conundrum, this paper posits a change of attitude to pave a way for greater caution to prevent future system failure from reflecting the present scenario. This suggestion will require the implementation of several strategies such as:
- Centralization of the forensics effort
- Adequate funding by the government
- An oversight body
With these three measures in place, the future of the relationship between forensics and the criminal justice system will be secured. For a more discussion of how these measures might be helpful, it is necessary to consider the proposed reforms from the perspective of jurisdictions that have had similar functions in place such as the British and the Canadian systems.
The British and the Canadian forensic systems recently underwent an upgrade to align it with the internationally ratified requirements of a forensics framework (Gabel 299). This promotion required the respective government to sit in several coordination meetings with the forensic officials, as well as with the nation’s renowned research specialists and affiliated universities. Based on the outcomes and proceedings at these meetings, a proposal was made in an attempt to develop possible solutions to the present quagmire. The proposal included the need to:
- Analyze the present forensic framework, which still features the first-generation forensics methodologies
- Lay preventive measures that will be intended to protect the criminal justice system from any pathologies in the second-generation methodologies
- Define the role of the federal government in implementing the desired changes in the forensics department
Methods such as fingerprint analysis have existed as long as the genre of forensics has been in place. The problem with this particular method and other first-generation techniques is the lack of reliability of their foundational theories. Such methods were not thoroughly researched before being adopted as part of the absolute truths. Consequently, to solve this problem, it is imperative for the overhaul to begin (Murphy 741). The overhaul should follow a bottom-up approach such that the process begins with the lower levels of the criminal justice system. The plan requires thorough scrutiny of numerous assumptions that presently form the basis of forensic analysis. Such detailed intervention cannot be facilitated without involving the primary stakeholders who include the forensics analysts, the universities, which are the banks of the needed scientific data, the human resource, other researchers, and lawyers (Gabel 334). When these categories of people meet, they can tackle the problem meaningfully and less subjectively before coming up with valid solutions. More importantly, the issues that the parties agree on will be unanimous. Hence, each stakeholder will be bound to comply with a unified system of values and procedures. This situation will make the regulation by an oversight body much easier and more diplomatic because all parties will have to come up with regulatory procedures together.
Having set in motion the plan to revise the faulty first-generation foundational errors, the next step is preventive in nature where the main idea is to protect the modern forensic science methodologies from falling into the same ditch as their predecessors. To avoid this occurrence, it is necessary to involve the legal practitioners in the process of perpetually updating the existing forensics system (Gabel 328). One way to achieve this objective is to make a law that requires the judges to subject any forensic data that is presented in courts to thorough scrutiny for authentication of its reliability in terms of collection, storage, and analytical procedures. Such a directive will curb the admission of faulty evidence, which may otherwise result in unfair trials. The various stakeholders can establish a standard of excellence that has to be reached before evidence of a forensic nature can be accepted in any court of law throughout the American judicial system. Such a regulatory body of laws will contain basic instructions on the necessary minimums or basics that are needed to make forensic evidence admissible in court. Subsequently, it will be important to modernize these guidelines regularly according to scientific status in forensic studies. It will also be helpful for the oversight body to have an enforcement capacity. Imposing penalties and sanctions for non-compliance will soon clear any willful rebellion by the stakeholders, especially if they participate in the process of promulgating the laws that govern this proposed system. Since the suggested solutions interlink, the third proposal calls for the government’s involvement in the entire reform process.
It is crucial for the government to get involved in this entire paradigm shift. This involvement is most effective at the federal level, as opposed to individual states that act independently. Such a centralized approach is not only financially friendlier but also gives federal authority to the regulations that will subsequently be passed down to other levels of the criminal court hierarchies. It also saves the time that will otherwise be necessary for the various states to sit in committees to come up with various proposed regulations before engaging with higher committees to coordinate and find consensus on the issue (Gabel 344). However, this position does not mean that the federal government cannot involve the various states in the initial deliberations. In fact, it will be ideal if the stakeholders that are charged with coming up with this proposed regulatory framework comprise representatives from the various states. Another reason for the need for government involvement is the critical issue of funding. One of the reasons why the problem prevails is the lack of funding whose impact on the criminal justice systems is reflected in the forensic experts’ mediocre performance. It is worrying to see governments seek the findings of forensic experts while they never get involved in funding for any ongoing research. Therefore, according to Gabel, the new regulatory guidelines include a provision that requires the government to fund the various forensics labs as well as ongoing research (344). The guidelines will require the accountability of each involved party, including the government. With this background, the governments and their respective criminal justice systems can rightfully point fingers and demand better performance since they will have invested in this course. As the reform process begins, hiccups and hurdles will inevitably arise. However, this strategy has been adopted before by other jurisdictions and it has succeeded where it has been effectively implemented. Hence, it will help the involved parties to stay focused on this road to change. Another precautionary step that the propagators of such a reform can take to prevent excessive delays in implementation due to the lack of unanimity will be to invite international observers or advisers from Britain and Canada. Such invited parties will be at the forefront in coming up with effective forensics frameworks. Moreover, the proposed suggestions are simply borrowed from what the two countries had already implemented successfully. If the reform process proceeds to maturity to the extent that the nation gets a new centralized forensics framework, it will mark the beginning of a new era as far as the reliability of the criminal justice system is concerned. Moreover, from a political perspective, the political party that will steer this course will be much celebrated for a long time for having set a solid foundation beneath a near-collapsing system. The effects of such an overhaul actually go beyond national borders since most of the countries in the world celebrate the American legal system as one of the most efficacious. They strive to mimic the US policy directives. With such a thorough overhaul, the criminal justice system will shine even brighter. However, this proposed reform may regularly be updated based on the situation in the surrounding court systems. For instance, the reform may be upgraded to be in tandem with technological advancement.
This research has examined the impact that forensics has had on the criminal justice system. The paper has studied the positive influences that include rising the status of public confidence in the criminal justice system’s reliability as far as trying cases in a justified manner is concerned. It has also pointed out that such positive reflection facilitates trust in other appendages of the nation’s administration. Such other bodies are indirectly connected to the justice system through the ripple effect. Conversely, the paper has also explored the negative impact of forensics on the criminal justice system, noting that forensics seems to be a two-edged sword that can either cause harm or defend people from harm, depending on how it is handled. Presently, the existing forensics network is inherently flawed, and hence the bad publicity that it is causing the criminal justice system. Most of the members of the public are blaming the criminal justice system operators for not being sufficiently watchful or mindful of the kind of evidence that they admit into the courtroom, especially in the light of forensics updates due to technological advances. However, the way forward requires a solidification of the relationship between forensics and the criminal justice system. Such a union will require all parties to take greater responsibility for each other’s welfare. Each side will have a duty of ensuring that operations in the other segment are in tandem with the laid-down protocols. The criminal justice system can seek the aid of an oversight organization. It also requires a centralized function to be integrated into the field of forensics so that all the forensics experts can speak the same language throughout the nation. To realize this goal, the paper posits that representatives from each state should be invited to sit in the reform deliberations that will involve all the relevant stakeholders such as researchers, legal practitioners, universities, and forensics experts. For the welfare of all parties, including the American citizens, it is crucial for the government to provide funding not only for forensics research but also for the upkeep of various forensics labs. This financial plan will help in keeping the field up to date to prevent a recurrence of the current dilemma. Within the proposed reform framework is a requirement that judges should subject the forensic evidence that is submitted in court to thorough scrutiny for authentication based on the standards that the reform deliberators will come up with as the best way forward for the criminal justice system. With the implementation of these suggestions, the resolution of the US forensics dilemma will be solved permanently.
Brown, Darryl. “What Can Kafka Tell Us about American Criminal Justice?” Texas Law Review 93.8(2014): 487-505. Print.
Cole, George, Christopher Smith, and Christina DeJong. The American system of criminal justice. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2014. Print.
Crocker, Anne, Yanick Charette, Michael Seto, Tonia Nicholls, Gilles Cote, and Malijai Caulet. “The National Trajectory Project of Individuals Found Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder in Canada. Part 3: Trajectories and Outcomes through the Forensic System.” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 60.3(2015): 117-126. Print.
Epps, Daniel. “The Consequences of Error in Criminal Justice.” Harvard Law Review 128.2(2015): 1065-1153. Print.
Gabel, Jessica. “Realizing Reliability in Forensic Science from Ground Up.” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 104.2(2014): 283-354. Print.
Koppl, Roger, and Meghan Sacks. “The Criminal Justice System Creates Incentives for False Convictions.” Journal of Criminal Justice Ethics 32.2(2013): 126- 162. Print.
Murphy, Erin. “The New Forensics: Criminal Justice, False Certainty, and the Second Generation of Scientific Evidence.” California Law Review 95.5(2007): 721-798. Print.
Neubauer, David, and Henry Fradella. America’s courts and the criminal justice system. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.
Salvatore, Christopher, Michael Markowitz, and Christopher Kelly. “Assessing Public Confidence in the Criminal Justice System.” Journal of International Social Science Review 88.2(2012): 3-18. Print.
Ward, Tony. “The dual relationship problem in forensic and correctional practice: Community protection or offender welfare?” Legal and Criminological Psychology 19.1(2014): 35-39. Print.