The FBI and the Department of Justice have announced that they are beginning an unprecedented review of over 10,000 cases involving microscopic hair analysis evidence. They have conceded that, since at least 1985, FBI agents have been providing hair evidence testimony in court that is not scientifically supportable. See previous WCB hair analysis evidence post here.
These actions result in large part from the work done by Washington Post reporter Spencer Hsu. And in recognition of this, Spencer was awarded the Innocence Network 2013 Journalism Award last Friday evening (4/19/13) at the National Innocence Network Conference, being held this year in Charlotte, NC. See one of Spencer’s articles on this subject from last July here.
The case reviews will be assisted by the Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
The last time the FBI abandoned a forensic practice was in 2005 when CBLA (compositional bullet lead analysis) was debunked because its premise is not scientifically supportable. See previous WCB CBLA post here.
The 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences on the state of forensics in the US had this to say about hair analysis evidence – “The report finds no scientific support for the use of hair comparisons for individualization in the absence of nuclear DNA.”