President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

In 2016, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) provided recommendations regarding the use of forensic science in court cases, specifically addressing the validity of comparison evidence. This report was to recommend additional steps to ensure scientific validity beyond those recommended by the National Academy of Sciences report in 2009. The two gaps that were identified in the PCAST report include (1) the need for clarity about the scientific standards for validity and reliability of forensic methods and (2) the need to evaluate specific forensic methods to determine whether they have been scientifically established to be valid and reliable. Evidence such as bite marks, latent fingerprints, firearms, hair, footwear, and DNA whose analysis requires comparison were specifically noted. The recommendations address the required evaluations of validity for these types of evidence, creating standard, quantifiable processes of analysis, creating a forensic science research and development initiative, revising the Department of Justice language for testimony and reports to align with newly developed standards for validity of scientific evidence, and overseeing expert testimony by attorneys and judges to assure validity standards are being upheld (PCAST, 2016).

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