Scandal and increasing burden slow progress at crime labs across U.S.


The director of the Washington State Crime Lab resigned last week after months of allegations of misconduct in the lab have cast a shadow on forensic analysis in thousands of cases. Problems were uncovered in Washington’s labs began last summer, when a whistleblower reported that quality checks on blood-alcohol tests had been fabricated. Reports have alleged that more corners were cut on the tests, rendering thousands of results unreliable.  The director’s resignation does not address systemic problems at the lab.

Regardless of how many cases were affected, the public's trust in the work performed by the lab has been eroded, said Kevin Curtis, president of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

"I think a change in leadership, at a minimum, is necessary as the first step to regaining and restoring that," he said.

Batiste said that is ultimately the goal.

"We're after complete credibility," Batiste said in an interview. "We are obviously pursuing the confidence of the judiciary as well as the citizens."

Read the full story here

. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 02/14/2008) 

Read a Seattle Post-Intelligencer special report on problems at the Washington Crime Lab

The Innocence Project has proposed improvements in crime lab oversight and funding across the country to prevent mistakes and misconduct from occurring. Other labs across the country have suffered slowdowns and budget shortfalls as the demand for forensic testing has grown.

Learn more about the Innocence Project’s proposals for crime lab oversight reforms


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