Summary On NIFS Recommendations
For many years, forensic science disciplines have been have produced evidence that is valuable and led to successful prosecution and conviction of criminals and at the same time the exoneration of innocent people. Therefore advances in forensic disciplines will serve important purposes such as the assistance in law enforcement officials in the course of investigations, they will also reduce the occurrence of wrongful convictions hence a reduction in risk of offenders continuing to commit crimes and finally it will enhance national ability to address homeland security. Therefore there has been continuous working towards the achieving of excellent in forensic field by numerous professionals in the forensic science community and medical examiner system.
The strengthening of forensic science in the united states; a path forward was what resulted from a three years research and testimony that was taken by the committee on the identification of the needs of forensic sciences community and the committee on applied and theoretical statistics of national research council of national assembly came up with some findings. The main finding was that forensic science system encompasses research and practice has serious problems that can be addressed only by the national committee to overhaul the structures that are currently in place in support of the forensic science community in the country.
There were various recommendations that were set and this are: the creation of a National Institute of Forensic Sciences which is to act as a tool for the development of forensic science into a mature field of multidisciplinary research and practice. The NIFS should have an administrator who is full time and an advisory board that has expertise in research and education, forensic science disciplines, physical and life sciences, forensic pathology,engineering,information technology,measurement of standards,evaluation and testing, law, national security and public policy. The NIFS should put its focus on the establishment and enforcing of best practices for forensic science professionals and labs. It should also establish standards for mandatory accreditation of forensic science labs and certification of forensic scientists should also be mandatory.
The second recommendation was the establishment of standard terminology that will be used in reporting on and testifying about results that have been obtained from forensic science investigations. There should also be establishment of model laboratory reports to be used for the different forensic science disciplines and a specification of the minimum information that should be included. The utilization of model laboratory reports when summarizing results of analyses should form Part of accreditation process of labs and forensic scientist’s .this are all mandated to the NIFS in consultation with its advisory board.
Recommendation three is the need of research in addressing issues of accuracy, reliability and validity in the forensic science disciplines. The NIFS should therefore provide funds for peer-reviewed research in area such as; studies establishing scientific base that demonstrate the validity of forensic methods. The development and establishment of measures that are reliable and accurate of forensic analyses and these studies should be a reflection of actual practices on realistic case scenario.NIFS should also provide funds for the development of measures that can be quantified when it comes to uncertainty in the conclusion of forensic analyses. Lastly they should fund techniques that are automated and hence capable of enhancing forensic technologies.
Recommendation four is the improvement of scientific bases of forensic science examination and to emphasize on the maximization of independence from or the autonomy within law enforcement in the community. There should be authorization and appropritization of incentive funds by congress to NIFS for allocation to state and local jurisdictions. This is done for the purpose of the removal of public forensic labs and facilities from the administrative control of law enforcement agencies or prosecutors’ offices.
Recommendation five involves the encouragement of research programs on human observer bias and sources of human error in forensic examinations. This should be emphasized by NIFS, and such programs may include studies used to determine effects of contextual bias in forensic studies like studies on determination of whether or not and to what extent the results obtained from forensic analyses have been influenced by prior knowledge that regard to the background of the suspect and the theory of the investigators on the case. Research on the sources of human errors should therefore be linked closely with the research that has been conducted to quantify and characterize the error amount. From these results NIFS and its advisory board should develop operating systems that are standard that minimize the potential and sources of human error in forensic practice to a great extent.
Recommendation six is to facilitate the work of NIFS by the authorization and appropriate funding by congress to enable NIFS to work with NIST,in conjunction with universities, government labs, private labs and in consultation with scientific working groups to develop tools that are useful for advancing measurement, validation, reliability, sharing of information and proficiency testing in forensic science that will lead to establishment of protocols to be used in examinations, methods and practices .the standards that are set should therefore reflect the best practices and serve as accreditation tools for labs and guides for education, training and certification of professionals.
Recommendation seven requires laboratory accreditation and the certification of individuals who are in the field of forensic science to be made mandatory .all the forensic science professional should haveaccess to certification process. During the determination of appropriate standards of accreditation and certification, NIFS should consider the already established and recognized international standards like those published by ISO.anyone who has no certification should not be allowed to practice in public or private forensic science disciplines or testify as a forensic science professional. Certification should include at a minimum written examinations, supervised practice, proficiency testing, continuous education and recertification. All labs should also be accredited and forensic science professionals certified, when they are eligible within a certain timeframe that has been established by NIFS.
Recommendation eight requires that there should be establishment of routine quality assurance and quality control procedures in forensic labs that will ensure accuracy of the forensic analyses and the work done by a forensic practitioner. Quality control procedures should therefore be designed to identify fraud, mistakes and bias. They should also be designed for the continued validity and reliability of the standard operating procedures and protocols. They should also ensure that best practices are being followed. Any procedures and protocols that are identified to need improvement are corrected.
Recommendation nine requires that NIFS and its advisory board should establish national code of ethics for all forensic science disciplines and encourage the incorporation of this code as part of professional code of ethics by individuals in society. NIFS should also explore the mechanisms of the enforcement for forensic scientists who commit serious violations. These codes should ultimately be enforced through certification process for the forensic scientists.
Recommendation ten involves the attraction of students in the physical and life sciences to pursue multidisciplinary fields that are critical to forensic science. Funds should be authorized by congress to NIFS who will work with appropriate organizations and educational institutions for the improvement and development of graduate education programs that are designed to cut across organizational, programmatic and even disciplinary boundaries.
Committee of identification needs of forensic science community, national research council.(2009).Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward.Pg (41-50) retrieved November 26, 2012 fromhttps://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/228091.pdf
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