Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System

Recorded Books. Apr. 2022. 10:52 hrs. ISBN 9781705061510. $24.99. CRIME
Narrator Chris Henry Coffey’s conversational delivery is perfect for this powerful work from the Innocence Project’s director of strategic litigation. Fabricant (Busted: Drug War Survival Skills) defines junk science in the courtroom as “subjective speculation masquerading as science.” Fabricant reports that while scientific validation research underpins legitimate forensic sciences, junk sciences such as shaken baby syndrome, shoe and tire print analysis, voice spectrometry, and hair and fiber microscopy are not based on rigorous research and have led to many wrongful convictions. Weaving in shocking accounts of Innocence Project client convictions—nearly half of all wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence involve misuse of forensic sciences—the author describes a justice system so intent on swiftly punishing criminals, it doesn’t seem to care if the right person is locked up, as long as someone is. The narrator sounds flabbergasted as he relays stories of clients like Steven Chaney, who was convicted of murder with the help of some of the junkiest science—bite-mark analysis—despite the fact that he had nine unimpeachable alibi witnesses attesting to his whereabouts every minute of the day of the murder.
VERDICT Coffey’s impassioned performance of this eye-opening work should spark important conversations about criminal justice reform.
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