Forensic pseudoscience introduced into the courtroom has been used to convict and render death on people based on the thinnest of evidence.
Chris Fabricant is the strategic litigation director for the Innocence Project, as well as the author of the book Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System. For years, Fabricant has exposed the weakness and lack of rigor in many mainstream forensic science practices that are used to convict people of crimes. From bite mark analysis to ballistics to hair and fiber evidence to blood spatter analysis, much forensic science admitted in courts of law across the country hasn’t been held to a particularly high standard of rigor, and innocent people have been sent to prison (and even possibly executed) as a result. Fabricant’s book profiles individuals who have been convicted of horrific crimes on the basis of false conclusions by forensic “experts.” He shows how worryingly few safeguards there are for making sure that if you’re accused of a crime, the proof that you did it is actually scientifically valid. Fabricant recently joined Current Affairs editor-in-chief Nathan J. Robinson on the podcast to discuss the problem. The interview has been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.