Institute for Forensic Science Administration Awarded $20,000 Earhart Foundation Grant
Teaneck, NJ (March 26, 2008) — According to Roger Koppl, Director of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Institute for Forensic Science Administration (IFSA), the institute has been awarded a $20,000 Earhart Foundation grant to fund experiments to help minimize the error rate in forensic science.
Forensic science has become increasingly important in the outcomes of today’s criminal court cases, but remains heavily dominated by the prosecution under the current architecture of the criminal justice system. Using post-conviction DNA evidence, organizations such as the Innocence Project have helped exonerate over 200 people wrongly convicted of crimes. A study of the first 86 such cases, published in the journal Science, found faulty forensics played a role in almost two-thirds of those convictions.
IFSA’s goal is to improve justice by reducing the needlessly high error rate in forensic science. The institute provides research needed to support improved forensic science services in the criminal justice system. The institute has proposed a suite of reforms for forensic science, including the use of forensics vouchers for indigent defendants, removing crime labs from the exclusive control of police and prosecutors and implementing “redundant testing” to triple-check evidence.
With the funding awarded from the Earhart Foundation, IFSA will design a system of checks and balances within forensic science that will subject evidence to multiple independent tests. The proposed research builds on earlier work supported by the National Science Foundation. The research team will conduct a series of experiments in order to design cost-efficient, error-reducing mechanisms in forensic science. Current IFSA research predicts that redundant testing will not only save innocent people from false felony convictions, but will save millions of taxpayer dollars each year in costs of incarcerating the wrongly convicted.
The Earhart Foundation concentrates its grant-making on educational matters with an emphasis on disciplines from the social sciences and humanities such as economics, philosophy, international affairs and government/politics.
[Learn more about IFSA.]