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Forensic Science

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Unit 1

How do you view the forensic science practice before and after reading the course material?

Over the years, forensic science has become an important tool in solving various crimes by proving a wide variety of techniques to analyze evidence obtained at a crime scene. In this regard, criminal investigators have a more reliable approach for tackling crime in comparison to the traditional methods of crime investigations such as the reliance on witnesses. Forensic science minimizes the time criminal investigators spent in analyzing evidence and reaching a conclusion on suspected criminals.

After reading the course material, I learned that rules and regulations incorporated in the standard code of conduct for forensic experts demonstrate that forensic investigation is not error-proof. Concerns regarding causation of damage due to acts of omission and negligence during forensic investigations highlight the need for a more controlled process that incorporates collaborative efforts of law enforcement officers, agencies and forensic experts. Joint efforts between concerned parties will minimize the flaws evident in numerous forensic investigations and mitigate wrongful convictions or damages that may lead to legal tussles.   

What is your view on the role of objective and subjective science methods as applied to individualization?

Objective and subjective science methods play a crucial role in identifying the uniqueness of a source of evidence in criminal investigation. The focus on the uniqueness of an item of evidence relies on the fact that all items or objects have distinct attributes in the sense of happening, construction, wear and break. However, the significance of the two methods in individualization varies since subject methods are subject to personal attitudes and perceptions which tend to introduce bias in he analysis of an item of evidence since factual analysis is minimal. On the other hand, objective methods are subject to real facts and have minimal, if any, subjective aspects (Nickell and John 4). This means that the analysis of an item of evidence using subjective methods should provide similar results for all observes. Although there are instances involving a mix-up of objective and subjective aspect of analyzing evidence, measures to differentiate the two aspects minimize flaws in forensic investigation.

 For example, fingerprint analysis employs objective methods of science to develop the opinion of a forensic expert and has minimal reliance on the subjective opinion of the analyst. The evidence presented by a forensic expert, though regarded as an opinion testimony, incorporates the interpretations and conclusions of the forensic analysts based on scientific tests and examinations. The analysis of fingerprints can only become subjective if a layperson provides conclusions meant to identify a suspect. This is because his or her analysis would solely rely on personal feelings instead of skills.

How and when should forensic science serve as a tool to redress wrongful convictions?

It is factual that forensic science has significant impacts on the minimization of errors in criminal investigation since it employs techniques such as DNA profiling, fingerprint analysis and ballistic testing which help in identifying the uniqueness of an item of evidence. The numerous cases in which the review of evidence used to impose death sentences using forensic analysis proves flawed decision of the jury and leads to the acquittal of  convicted criminals illustrates the need for inclusion of forensic science in all criminal investigations that can benefit from this profession. This will help in substantiating results from other methods of criminal investigation and thus minimize erroneous convictions.

Unit 2

What are your views on the role of a forensic laboratory before and after reading Unit?

Forensic laboratories provide a platform for analysis of items of evidence using various scientific methods. After reading the course material, I learned that a forensic laboratory help in safeguarding samples of evidence for reference or as backup in case errors such as DNA mix-up occur during analysis of evidence.

What are your views on the disaggregated system of forensic service and, by, extension, the law enforcement system in the US?

The disaggregated system of forensic service introduces numerous hurdles in criminal investigations relying on forensic science. Synergy between departments in forensics and law enforcement is important in producing optimal outputs in forensics.

Which of the various factors has the greatest impact on forensic laboratory performance in your view: * jurisdiction ** lack of mandatory national standards.

The issue of jurisdiction largely curtails the performance of forensic laboratories due to restrictions on access to resources and materials required for effective forensic analysis (“Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Sciences Community” 211). This discipline operates within a scope that limits its integration within the law enforcement system. Furthermore, the code of conduct for forensic experts is largely ambiguous leaving the standards of individual organizations to regulate the discipline.

What additional factors do you consider important for improvement?

Other factors include the availability of funds to boost the scientific research involved in forensics, which is a complex and expensive affair, and giving forensic experts more authority to access forensic materials and samples.

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