**FILE** The D.C. Council chamber at the John A. Wilson Building in D.C. (Courtesy of dccouncil.us)
**FILE** The D.C. Council chamber at the John A. Wilson Building in D.C. (Courtesy of dccouncil.us)

D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine praised the D.C. Council for passing a bill that reforms the embattled Department of Forensic Sciences, the city’s crime lab.

The lab examines forensic evidence that is used in criminal cases by prosecutors and defense attorneys, including the Office of the Attorney General. The lab has come under fire in recent years for negligence, misconduct and scientific errors which have led to the questioning of the integrity of the evidence it handles.

“The Department of Forensic Sciences’ failures are, sadly, the most significant of a forensic lab in the history of the United States,” Racine said. “The severe and wide-reaching challenges at the lab have been called out by our office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Public Defender Service, D.C. Superior Court judges, and significantly, the independent accrediting body for forensic labs. For our justice system to function, the public must have the confidence that police, prosecutors, and forensic experts are operating with integrity.”

The attorney general cited the lab’s history of poor management, inaccurate scientific testing, and its efforts to cover up failures.

“The first vote on this bill — and its passage — is a needed and encouraging step toward having a well-managed, independent lab that can restore the integrity of scientific testing and results in the District’s criminal cases, support public safety for all residents, and be a steward of taxpayer dollars,” he said. “To help accomplish those goals, the bill would ensure the council has more direct and ongoing oversight of the lab and empower the Science Advisory and Review Board. I urge the council to pass this bill [on second reading].”

Nevertheless, Racine said the bill fixing the agency is not enough. He called for the installation of agency leaders “who are committed to transparency and the necessary checks and balances that reflect the best practices of forensic labs.”

“District residents deserve nothing less,” he said.

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