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While 1,400 crime scene investigators, fingerprint examiners, and forensic pathologists learned about the latest in forensic technology last week in San Antonio at the International Association for Identification's annual International Educational Conference, questions remain around the current science that can lead to convictions.

A 2009 report from the National Academy of Sciences hammered the forensic science community, saying many of its assumptions and processes lacked enough proof. Other highly critical reports followed.

“There’s a danger that if we aren’t successful, there will be more reports of falsely convicted individuals and guilty perpetrators are allowed to go free because the quality of the forensic science was not convincing to a judge or jury,” said Mark Stolorow,  a 40-year veteran of forensic science who now works for the National Institute of Science and Technology, which started establishing higher standards in 2014.

He said over the last 100 years, policemen were asked to explain things like bullet and fingerprints matches. Officers with science backgrounds developed methods to establish those matches they thought were trustworthy, “and as long as the judge accepted their testimony as expert testimony, rather then going through rigorous peer-reviewed scientific development, they were effectively utilizing techniques they were testing by trial and error,” he added.

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