The Department of Justice is taking steps to develop nationwide standards for the use of forensic science by law enforcement agencies and the courts.
The department plans to set up a National Commission on Forensic Science, co-chaired by the DOJ and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, according to a notice in the Federal Register on Friday inviting applications.
The new commission will offer guidance on forensic science use and standards to federal, state and local law enforcement and attorneys and judges.
The commission will have about 30 members, who will serve without compensation.
“Members will be selected to achieve a diversity of experiences, including Federal, State, and Local forensic science service providers; research scientists and academicians; Federal, State, Local prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges; law enforcement; and other relevant stakeholders,” the notice said.
The commission, which will meet several times a year, will work toward “developing proposed guidance concerning the intersection of forensic science and the courtroom; (d) developing policy recommendations, including a uniform code of professional responsibility and minimum requirements for training, accreditation and/or certification,” the notice said.
Advances in forensic science have helped to solve cold cases, to capture criminals who have been at large for years and to exonerate people wrongly convicted. But mistakes in the application of forensics and inconsistencies regarding qualifications have pointed to a need for more uniform standards.