Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice

2014 Edition
| Editors: Gerben Bruinsma, David Weisburd

Forensic Science and Miscarriages of Justice

  • Simon A. Cole
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_233



The relationship between forensic science and miscarriages of justice is complex and paradoxical. Miscarriages of justice are, in a sense, fundamentally unknowable. Forensic science, in the form of postconviction DNA testing, is the data source of much of the little we do know – and much of what we feel we know most securely – about miscarriages of justice. At the same time, forensic science has emerged from those very data as a significant contributor to miscarriages of justice.

Conceptual Framework

“Forensic science” is a broad term encompassing a variety of different techniques for using physical evidence in the investigation of crime. Forensic techniques include document examination, toxicology, pathology, drug analysis, print analysis, impression evidence, hair, fibers, paint, glass, soil, entomology, arson and explosives, gunshot residue, materials analysis, “jigsaw” physical fit matching, ballistics, blood spatter, crime...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminology, Law & SocietyUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA