Sunday, November 18, 2007

Injustice for All

JusticeFBI's Forensic Test Full of Holes - So the FBI discovered that a forensic test used to convict hundreds of people was bogus. Did it notify those hundreds of people? Of course not.
Hundreds of defendants sitting in prisons nationwide have been convicted with the help of an FBI forensic tool that was discarded more than two years ago. But the FBI lab has yet to take steps to alert the affected defendants or courts, even as the window for appealing convictions is closing, a joint investigation by The Washington Post and "60 Minutes" has found.

The science, known as comparative bullet-lead analysis, was first used after President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963. The technique used chemistry to link crime-scene bullets to ones possessed by suspects on the theory that each batch of lead had a unique elemental makeup.
It's an interesting theory; it just happens to be wrong. In 2004, it was found to be "unreliable and potentially misleading."

But why should the FBI worry about the fact that people may have been convicted on bad evidence - bad evidence provided by the FBI that is - and actually do something about it? They are only interested in convictions after all. Justice never enters into it.

Oh, and despite the fact that the FBI has abandoned the test, it still "firmly supports" the convictions that went before. Right.

This isn't new by the way. The problems with this theory date back to 1991, but the FBI held onto it because it was convenient to throw people in jail without actually having to prove - scientifically - that your evidence was correct.

The nuts and bolts of the issue is as follows. The FBI said that bullets in the same batch would have the same chemical signature, and that different batches would differ.
The science academy found that the lab used faulty statistical calculations to declare that bullets matched even when the measurements differed slightly. FBI witnesses also overstated the significance of the matches.
Lies, damn lies and statistics, covered over with more lies. But it let the FBI throw people in jail. And those people were gun-owners. So they were bad in the FBI's eyes anyway. (They are the only ones qualified to cover over the truth and own guns.)

This is a long article, and it has made me so angry that I can't even finish it right now. But there are few things to remember.

The "system" is not interested in Justice. The "system" is only interested in convictions. Guilt or innocence is beside the point. As long as they can throw someone in prison, that is all that matters. When they discover a mistake - as they did in 1991 - they cover it up for as long as they can.

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