Jay Koehler on Proficiency Testing

Read here, Jay Koehler’s great new piece titled “Forensics or Fauxrensics? Ascertaining Accuracy in the Forensic Sciences.”  The piece develops a concept of “Type II” proficiency testing designed to accurately assess error rates in forensic disciplines.

Here is the abstract:

Forensic science – which includes such techniques as DNA analysis, fingerprint examination, and firearms comparison – plays a crucial role in our criminal justice system by helping to convict the guilty and acquit the innocent. However, our confidence in forensic science conclusions must be tempered by the odds that those conclusions are wrong. What are those odds? Nobody knows the answer because no disinterested researchers have conducted the appropriate studies in any of the forensic science disciplines. This is a serious problem because, without this information, legal decision makers cannot properly assess the validity or probative value of forensic evidence. In this paper, I examine the institutional forces and misunderstandings that are responsible for our ignorance about the accuracy of forensic science conclusions. I then recommend a new type of proficiency testing regimen (Type II proficiency testing) that is designed to measure error rates under appropriate test conditions in the various forensic subfields. Unless and until such studies are undertaken, legal decision makers will continue to fly blind when it comes to assessing the reliability of a reported forensic match.

One thought on “Jay Koehler on Proficiency Testing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s