Federal Government Advances in Wrongful Conviction Reforms

Exonerations have helped identify disturbing trends and causes – misapplication of forensic science, eyewitness misidentification, police induced fabricated confessions, government misconduct and inadequate defense – that must be addressed to prevent further injustice.

We worked at the national level with the Justice Department (DOJ), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Executive Branch and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to secure resources and shape policies to prevent wrongful convictions and ensure that evidence used in investigations and court rooms is based on the best science and guided by meaningful standards.

Notable reports include:

  • NAS  report urging comprehensive reform of forensic science (2009)
  • DOJ policy mandating recording of interrogations for all federal law enforcement (2014)
  • NAS report on reliability and validity of eyewitness identification (2014)
  • Review of FBI microscopic hair analysis with FBI, DOJ, and NACDL found 90% error rate (2015)
  • President Obama’s Task Force for 21st Century Policing report (2015)
  • President Obama’s Science Advisors’ report calls for essential improvements to forensic disciplines (2016)
  • DOJ guiding best practices for science-based eyewitness ID best practices for law enforcement and prosecutors (2016)