New Report on Preservation of Biological Evidence

A new report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) says that state and local laws can — and should — play a critical role in ensuring that forensic biological evidence (biological samples such as blood, hair or teeth, and items containing  biological material such as bloody T-shirt) is properly preserved.

The guide, Biological Evidence Preservation: Considerations for Policy Makers, encourages legislators, judges, law enforcement officials, crime laboratory mangers and other key persons to implement or update laws that support best practices regarding such evidence.

Based on a thorough examination of existing state statutes, current trends, law, scientific literature and expert opinions, the authors make nine recommendations for actions that support best practices for preserving biological evidence. Among the recommendations are that each state require:
  • The establishment of an authoritative body to define and enforce standards related to biological evidence preservation;
  • Biological evidence be stored in appropriate environmental conditions, based on known scientific practices;
  • Evidence be retained according to timetables based on the type of crime and the status of the case; and
  • A means for defendants or petitioners to seek recourse in cases where it has been judicially determined that a denial of access to biological evidence has occurred.
Source: NIST
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