NSPE Requests Clarification of Forensic Science Reform Act

Friday, March 11, 2011

NSPE sent a letter to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) expressing concern about his introduction of the Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Reform Act (S. 132). The intent of the bill is to strengthen and reform forensic science in the criminal justice system and ensure that forensic evidence and testimony is accurate, credible, and scientifically grounded. The bill's certification requirement for personnel performing forensic work for federally funded facilities, however, is problematic because it does not exclude professionals who are licensed by the state.

Forensic professional engineers rarely work in criminal laboratories, but because the legislation requires the certification of anyone who "conducts forensic testing, analysis, identification, or comparisons, the results of which may be interpreted, presented, or otherwise used during the course of a criminal investigation or prosecution" or testifies about evidence prepared by such an individual, forensic professional engineers could unintentionally be included in the certification requirements. To avoid inadvertently including state-licensed professionals who are not directly employed by criminal laboratories in the bill's certification requirements, NSPE requested that the legislation be revised to include a clarifying statement that the bill is not intended to affect those who are not directly employed by a criminal laboratory.