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Can you trust the evidence?

You are probably the person who best knows your child. After all, you were the one who offered love and care, who nurtured during illnesses and who stood beside your child during the toughest years of growing up. You did your best to raise your child to know right from wrong, and you were shocked when police arrested him or her for a serious crime.

Yes, you know your child, and the person Minnesota police and other so-called experts described during the trial was not the child you raised. In fact, you may have felt very confident in your child's innocence until you heard the testimony of the forensics expert. Investigators found evidence at the scene. DNA samples, fingerprints or other clues confirmed what police already claimed to know, that your child was guilty.

Is forensic science really science?

Americans love crime dramas, and any night of the week, you can switch from channel to channel and find a fictional criminal investigation that includes the expert opinion of a forensic scientists in a white lab coat. Without hesitation, the scientist asserts that the evidence points to the suspect, and the case is closed. In real life, it doesn't work that way. Unfortunately, TV viewers make up the jury pool.

In reality, the human element in most crime lab tests weighs much heavier than you may realize. Many once-trusted elements of a criminal investigation are now under suspicion, including:

  • DNA
  • Fingerprints
  • Hair analysis
  • Bite marks
  • Bullet marks
  • Blood spatter
  • Handwriting

If the prosecution included any of these as evidence against your child, remember that human beings collected the samples, transported them, labeled and stored them, tested them, and interpreted the tests. Flaws and mistakes may occur at any point along that chain of custody.

Flaws and corruption

You may be surprised to learn that there are no federal standards overseeing the processes used in crime labs across the country. In fact, in recent months, crime labs in dozens of states have fallen under a cloud of scandal as investigators find evidence that the scientists who work there were negligent at best and corrupt at worst when it came to handling the evidence.

DNA, blood and other samples break down without strict adherence to standards and testing methods. However, some labs do not secure crucial evidence, leaving it vulnerable to contamination or theft. In other labs, prosecutors encourage forensic examiners to use the sample not to seek the truth, but to confirm the guilt of a prime suspect. These examiners then give flawed testimony to support their illicit findings. Was your child a victim of this kind of tainted evidence?

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