Lack of oversight, shortage of pathologists contributed to `miscarriages of justice'
Flawed DNA testing: Chen Long-Qi, Taiwon; Writer Kristen Brown describes how bad DNA tests can lead to false convictions - and provides a very good example, in Gizmodo..."The thing is, it’s not always that simple. Most people think of DNA testing as a monolithic, infallible technique. But there are many different kinds of tests—and many different ways of interpreting them. Sometimes, somewhere between the process of collecting evidence at the scene and processing it in the lab, something goes awry."..."Michael Coble, a forensic scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology told Gizmodo that closer examination might have allowed the forensic scientists in Taiwan to tell whether the DNA mixture seemed to be largely from one suspect, but otherwise there are limits from the information to be gleaned. “Often times any DNA evidence gets the seal of approval, but it’s really the interpretation that matters,” he said. In a 2013 survey the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which Coble works for, asked 108 labs to interpret a made-up DNA sample with four people in it. They also provided the DNA profile of a fake suspect who wasn’t included in the sample. Seventy percent of the labs found the fake suspect to be a match."..."In forensic science, DNA evidence is gradually attracting more skepticism, and scrutiny to ensure that the conditions under which it was collected and processed were sound. In one 2008 study, researchers wrote that there is “a mystical aura of definitiveness often surrounds the value of DNA evidence,” but all DNA evidence is not created equal. DNA evidence can be conclusive, but only when good DNA samples are tested correctly using the appropriate test."
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