CSI, the FBI Crime Lab and Flawed Forensic Evidence
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CSI-type television shows make science look infallible, but how trustworthy is crime scene analysis in the real world? The reliability of forensic evidence in criminal trials is in the spotlight again, thanks to a Washington Post report about an investigation into the FBI's crime labs that could potentially involve thousands of people wrongfully convicted of crimes. Also, the Charles Taylor verdict, and a big shift in arts funding leaves PBS looking for money. Sara Terry guest hosts.
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Charles Taylor Verdict ()
At The Hague, the former president of Liberia, was convicted today of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity, during the war in Liberia. Charles Taylor becomes the first former head of state to be convicted of war crimes by an international court since the Nuremberg trials, after World War II. Afua Hirsch is West African correspondent for the Guardian.
Forensic Science and the Wrongful Conviction of Innocent People ()
Mistakes made at the FBI's crime lab may have helped put thousands of people behind bars, based on faulty analysis of forensic evidence. The alarm bells went off in 1995, when an FBI special agent testified in the high-profile terrorism trial of the Muslim sheik suspected of plotting the first attack on the World Trade Center. A chemist and lawyer, he told the court he'd been pressured by his superiors to ignore forensic findings that didn't support the government's theory of the bombing. The uproar that followed prompted a Justice Department investigation. But the report, which took nearly a decade to complete, was never released publicly. A Washington Post report found several wrongful convictions. What about the other cases? How reliable is forensic evidence? Are new standards and oversight needed?
- Spencer Hsu: Washington Post
- Andrew Gumbel: journalist and author
- Matthew Redle: National District Attorneys' Association
- Barry Scheck: Cardozo School of Law
- Peter Marone: Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations
NEA Cuts Funding to PBS ()
The National Endowment for the Arts, the US government's main agency for arts funding, startled the arts world yesterday with news that it was making sweeping cuts in its support of several PBS television shows, and for the first time was making a significant investment in new media projects, including gaming and mobile and Web-based arts ventures. Alyce Myatt is Media Arts Director at the NEA.
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