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Convictions must not come from scientific shortcuts

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Convictions must not come from scientific shortcuts. Yet, we have junk breathalyzer tests for DWI cases used more often than the more reliable blood testing approach; Virginia law allows for marijuana conviction using junk field testing; we hear about crime lab chemists who cut corners to clear their work backlogs; and we have an overgrown criminal justice system that consequently will fail to have the best employees doing scientific testing correctly and with sufficient thoroughness.

Thanks to President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology for investigating forensic testing in criminal cases, to discover instances of lack of sufficient scientific reliability nor rigor. The Council’s report is expected later in September 2016.

The criminal justice system is expensive, and criminal defendants should not suffer from corner cutting to reign in those expenses. Instead, we must shrink the overgrown, overly expensive criminal justice system, for instance by legalizing marijuana, prostitution and gambling; heavily decriminalizing all other drugs; eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing and the death penalty; and eliminating per se guilty rules in DWI cases.