Forensic science in 21st-century criminal justice essay


Paper statistics

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, publicly funded crime labs employed 14, full-time forensic personnel in At the end of , publicly funded crime labs had an estimated backlog of , requests for forensic services, and 38 percent of these labs outsourced one or more types of services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that, between and , there will be a 27 percent increase in open positions for forensic science technicians. Due to the inherent nature of the forensic sciences and the broad scope and depth of disciplines needed to address various crime-related problems, we must employ research, development, and technology in all areas of science and engineering.

The acronym STEM refers to science, technology, engineering, and math. First introduced by the National Science Foundation in the late s and officially accepted in , [11] STEM embodies the interrelatedness of the four disciplines as they relate to education. STEM generally includes the physical sciences physics, math, and chemistry , life sciences biology, anatomy, botany, and anthropology , engineering, and technology.

Some federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, have a broad view of STEM and include the social and behavioral sciences psychology and sociology.

Other organizations also include architecture, medical sciences, and computer sciences. Additional concerns regarding mediocre U. The STEM sectors continue to face challenges in recruiting and sustaining individuals from diverse backgrounds. The main segments of the STEM pipeline are:. This analogy suggests that there should be mechanisms in place to support and sustain students throughout their educational pathway.

Criminal Justice and Forensic Science

STEM labor market is projected to grow faster than any other sector over the decade, and participation by females and racial and ethnic minorities is not only a national priority but is critical to maintaining U. The census indicates that racial and ethnic minorities are the fastest growing segment of the U. According to the National Science Foundation, women represent approximately 51 percent of the total population, but they represent only about 30 percent of science and engineering fields.

Additionally, Hispanics and African Americans represent 17 percent and 13 percent of the total population, respectively, but they represent only 6 percent and 5 percent of science and engineering fields. Additional data from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics indicate that while women continue to see strides in the life and social sciences, they remain significantly underrepresented in the physical and engineering sciences.

In , 2. By diversifying the STEM pipeline, we will be able to draw on the brainpower and talent of segments of the population that have been historically discouraged from scientific enterprise.

Forensic science

This will allow us to expand the problems and issues that can be addressed and the questions that can be asked. Research indicates that to improve diversity in STEM fields, from which forensic professionals are drawn, there must be concerted and intentional efforts to attract students by building pathways to STEM careers. Without a sustained and highly qualified STEM workforce to undergird the forensic sciences, the United States will not be able to compete globally or provide innovative solutions to reduce crime and ensure public safety.

OIFS recognizes the need to enhance diversity in the forensic sciences and has undertaken a strategic planning process focused on expanding the pool of diverse talent in the various forensic science disciplines, particularly grant applicants, peer reviewers, and graduate research fellows. This strategic planning process includes three primary areas: assessment, outreach and engagement, and sustainability.

Importance of quality management in forensic science: [Essay Example], words GradesFixer

To determine the state of awareness and to share diversity goals and planning efforts, NIJ has been participating in a series of workshops focused on the importance of diversity and inclusion for science organizations and how it affects everyday work, particularly with stakeholders.

NIJ has also been evaluating the available demographic data on peer reviewers, principal investigators, grant applicants, and graduate fellows — data that will help NIJ determine areas of opportunity to focus on diversity efforts. Over the past year, NIJ has worked to expand awareness of the agency to the broader scientific and research communities.

For example, NIJ has developed and implemented marketing strategies to expand communications to larger audiences of underrepresented students and professionals. These efforts include collaborating with professional scientific organizations with diverse membership profiles to share opportunities for research and development grants, peer reviewing, and graduate fellowships. Many of the professional scientific organizations — including the American Association for the Advancement of Science AAAS , the Consortium of Social Science Associations, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the American Chemical Society — have memberships in the thousands and serve as conduits for information for potential candidates who were not being reached.

To reach a broad range of scientific disciplines, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and educational levels, NIJ partnered with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities to facilitate two webinars and share opportunities for graduate student and faculty researchers. These types of partnerships enable NIJ to reach broader and more diverse audiences in the higher education, research, and scientific communities.

NIJ has also expanded its outreach and engagement efforts by participating in conferences that target diverse populations in STEM. Participation in these types of events has increased awareness and helped lift the science of NIJ to broader and more scientifically diverse audiences. These efforts will also help expand the pool of potential peer reviewers who will be called on to serve on grant review panels, which is the primary mechanism that guides award funding decisions.

NIJ has several research initiatives aimed at building the STEM pipeline and creating pathways for students and early researchers from diverse backgrounds to advance scientific knowledge to solve criminal justice problems. Both programs support STEM degree attainment and expand the talent pool in scientific disciplines engaged in criminal justice and forensics-related research. The GRF-STEM Program provides awards to accredited academic institutions to support graduate research leading to doctoral degrees in topic areas that are relevant to ensuring public safety, preventing and controlling crime, and ensuring the fair and impartial administration of criminal justice in the United States.

This program supports research in a broad array of scientific disciplines, including the life sciences, physical sciences, math, computer sciences, and engineering. Exhibit 4 shows demographics for the graduate fellowships awarded in FY and indicates support of various scientific fields that correspond to multiple forensic disciplines. Some of the research studies that were awarded in FY include:.

By supporting graduate student research in these areas, NIJ addresses some of the persistent barriers to completing STEM doctoral degrees — lack of funding and research opportunities. Moreover, NIJ is strengthening forensic science policy and practice by advancing technology, improving analytical sensitivity and selection, and enhancing processes to accurately identify crime scene evidence.

RAP has historically supported students in the social and behavioral sciences to address issues related to violence, victimization, corrections, and sexual assault. NIJ recently expanded the program to include support for students in STEM fields, allowing the institute to support student development and research in additional areas related to science and engineering, including digital forensics and multimedia analysis, data science applied to crime justice, body armor for female law enforcement officers, geospatial and crime mapping, and forensic analyses on sexual assaults.

The benefits of this residency include interacting with criminal justice researchers who can serve as mentors, provide authentic career advice, and help students develop the skills needed to be successful in the workforce. As NIJ develops and implements its diversity and inclusion strategic initiative, it will continue to engage, collaborate, and partner with stakeholders throughout the scientific, educational, and research communities. For example, NIJ has committed to serve an active role on the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Diversity Committee to help broaden the pool of students and practitioners in the forensic sciences.

Products that reached the quality standards of an inspecting committee would receive a special quality mark. Master craftsmen began to add their own quality marks to their products to guard their reputation and standards. Customers who bought products bearing inspection and master craftsman marks were assured of the quality of their purchase.

It was in the twentieth century that the concept of quality was broadened to include many more products and services including forensic science. The medieval quality marks have evolved into a more general idea of standards which are procedures, metrics measurements , behaviors or whatever is needed in a particular activity to guarantee a quality output. Standards vary from place to place so, there is a need for some kind of international reference. After all, the result of DNA identification should not vary depending on the country or laboratory where it was done. If the defense orders a second opinion then it merely confuses matters if the second lab follows a different procedure from the first one.

A lab dedicated to the forensic investigation can be registered to ISO standard which gives proof of the quality of its work.

The Diversity of the Forensic Sciences

Another important idea in the improvement of quality is benchmarking. This involves a search for a benchmark. Quality is an evolving concept with organizations and individuals continually being challenged to reach ever-higher standards. In science, methods and equipment are changing all the time and laboratories and their personnel must keep up and adapt. Forensic science involves many different disciplines from pathology and chemistry to engineering and entomology.

Whatever the nature of the evidence, however, its preservation from deterioration or contamination is paramount.


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Trace evidence, in particular, is vulnerable in this respect. Protective clothing at the scene and restricted access can help preserve the evidence that is present. After that, proper securing and packaging is essential. Once in the laboratory, the evidence must be correctly stored which may involve refrigeration or protection from moisture and it must never be left unattended or unsecured in case of tampering or theft. These are written instructions as to how to carry out a given task using properly tried and tested methods.

A court would, rightly not be impressed to discover that a forensic laboratory was still carrying out, for example, fingerprint analyses according to a method from the s. A wide range of equipment, including spectrometers, microscopes, cameras and gas chromatographs is used in the forensic laboratory. The equipment must also be properly and regularly calibrated. It must also be regularly maintained and replaced or upgraded if faults occur.

Quality standards apply as much if not more to the people working in the forensic laboratory as to the equipment and methods they use.


  1. Forensic science - Wikipedia.
  2. Related eJournals;
  3. The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the Forensic Sciences!

First, the person must have the appropriate scientific qualifications for the job. Requirements may vary but each person should have a written job description including their responsibilities,duties, and skills required. The manager of the laboratory will have had several years of experience in forensic work.

What Is STEM?

Technicians will have qualifications appropriate to the type of work they are carrying out. Because forensic science is such a rapidly evolving discipline it is essential that there be provision for continuing education for everyone employed in the laboratory. This might include the opportunity to take a higher degree and will certainly involve taking courses to learn new techniques from time to time and keeping up with the professional literature to increase awareness of developments.

In addition, an important part of being a forensic science professional is to be prepared to testify in court. This may involve fierce cross-examination and the individual must be objective and confident enough to defend their work as well as making the principles and detail involved accessible to the judge and jury.

Everyone working in a forensic laboratory must do all they can to take a scientific and objective approach to their work just as one would in any other laboratory setting. This means being unbiased, prepared to repeat experiments, using control and reference samples and keeping accurate records of procedures carried out and results obtained. Over and above this, there are special requirements for forensic investigators relating to ethical and legal aspects of the work. Perhaps the most important requirement here is an awareness of the importance of the chain of custody of evidence.

This means that it must be clear to the court exactly what has happened to the evidence from the moment of its collection to its presentation in the courtroom. There are significant pressures on all laboratories that undertake forensic science work for the Criminal Justice System to implement a quality management system in their respective organizations:.

This proposal means that all laboratories offering forensic science services to the Criminal Justice System will have to adopt a quality management system. This requirement will apply to any police laboratory undertaking any type of forensic science work i. If an organization has no previous experience of designing, implementing and maintaining such quality standards especially for a discipline as complex as forensic science, trying to plan for such can be a daunting task. Forensic Access has a significant experience of developing, implementing and maintaining quality management systems in forensic science laboratories and this service is now offered to police and other organizations.

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