In the criminal justice system, there is a skewed – but high – incentive for forensic scientists to get a conviction, whether it is a valid one or not. Crime and forensic labs are being paid fees per conviction, creating a higher possibility of bias.
Crime labs conduct tests such as toxicology, fingerprint analysis, DNA evidence analysis, ballistics and hair microscopy. How confident would you be if you found out the lab conducting your toxicology test got paid only if you were convicted? Throughout the country, there have been thousands of falsely convicted individuals due to forensic lab mistakes, all to the benefit of the labs.
The Houston Police Department Crime Lab has been under investigation since 2002, for countless lab errors and faulty forensic testing. An estimated 16,000 rape kits were discovered to be untested in a property room of the facility, leaving thousands of innocent people falsely convicted and sent to prison.
In 2002, Lazaro Sotolusson, a prisoner at Las Vegas Detention Center was prosecuted for his cell mates’ crimes–sexual assault of two juveniles at gunpoint– when it was discovered that the DNA samples of the two were switched a year before.
Mistakes like these are, unfortunately, very common. Few crime lab workers and lab examiners are scientists, and many labs are affiliated with, or run by police departments– which put the desire for closed cases and secured convictions above all else.
In addition to the perverse incentive of getting paid, sadly, lab examiners have less of a reason to spend time on preventing someone’s conviction. Crime labs get paid to provide evidence of conviction, giving more reason for incompetent labs or faulty machines to be left unfixed, to corrupt prospective tests. Crime labs may also falsify, alter, neglect or simply lie about evidence and test results to get the conviction that will go straight into their pocketbook.
Many states have this flawed justice system incentive in place. In Carolina, you can be fined up to $600 just for lab processing fees upon conviction. Would you want to pay that if you were wrongfully found guilty?
No one wants to end up with a false conviction. To prevent any forensic malpractice, whether illicit or not, it is best to seek legal council from trustworthy and knowledgeable lawyers who know you and your case, and are dedicated to seeking the truth. From DUI’s, to photo radar cases, or felony charges, you need someone who can get you the fairest outcome possible and challenge any injustices that could come your way.