Statement From the AAFS Board of Directors on the DOJ Request for Input on Forensic Science


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Source:  Betty Layne DesPortes, JD, MS, 2017-18 President

The following statement has been submitted in response to the Department of Justice request for input on the role of forensic science in the justice system.

The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) (https://www.aafs.org) is a multi-disciplinary professional organization with a major objective of improving practice within the field of forensic science. The justice system depends on thorough, complete, accurate, and unbiased forensic evidence. AAFS supports advancing forensic science through continued integration of forensic science with the broader scientific community. The entire membership of our organization has a vested interest in strengthening forensic science and promoting its more rigorous use in the justice system. We recognize that science only advances with transparency, openness, and a commitment to the scientific method. Improving the underlying science and validity of forensic evidence requires support of ongoing standards development and implementation, including the work of NIST-OSAC and the Academy Standards Board; the commitment of major research funds to achieve further evaluation of method validity; and the promotion of accreditation of laboratories and certification of practitioners. Improving the operational management systems of forensic science service providers requires increased funding for adequate staffing to prioritize the reliability of scientific results while meeting the legal community’s needs for faster results.

Our mission is to provide leadership to advance science and its application to the legal system. Representing all 50 states and 70 other countries worldwide, the 6,638 members of AAFS are forensic science or legal practitioners who improve the understanding of forensic science by criminal and civil justice practitioners, policymakers, and the public through education, dissemination of research in forensic science, and public engagement. We encourage other groups, agencies, and organizations to collaborate with us to advance forensic science and its use in the legal system.