The Critical Role of Statistics in Evaluating Forensic Evidence

Isobel Loutit responded to the need for statistical methods to ensure quality in the manufacturing of computing machines that were critical to World War II efforts. Since then, statisticians have been important contributors to many areas of science, leading to advances in statistical research that benefits multiple fields. Statistics in forensic science has not been as extensive, given the importance of field (ensuring proper administration of justice) despite the value it has demonstrated thus far (e.g., forensic DNA, bullet lead evidence, eyewitness reliability). Many forensic methods remain unvalidated (e.g. bite marks, hair analysis). I provide examples where statistics played a vital role in the evaluating forensic evidence. In the spirit of Isobel Loutit's legacy, I also offer ways that statisticians can help to strengthen forensic evidence, aim to achieve low error rates, and thereby help to raise the level of confidence in the criminal justice system.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - 13:30 to 14:30

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First Name Middle Name Last Name Primary Affiliation
Karen Kafadar University of Virginia