Posted Jul 11, 2012 11:32 am CDT
The U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday that it is joining with the FBI to review thousands of criminal cases to determine whether flawed hair evidence tainted the convictions.
The analysis is the largest post-conviction review ever done by the FBI, the Washington Post reports. The announcement follows a Washington Post report in April that said hundreds of defendants are still in prison or on parole for crimes in which FBI hair and fiber experts may have wrongly identified them as suspects.
Hair and fiber analysis is not grounded in solid research, according to the story. Many forensic examiners were wrong about matches, and others exaggerated statistics to indicate the chances of a false match was unlikely. An inspector general’s review that ended in 2004 turned up problems in 250 cases, but the defense was notified in fewer than half of them, the Post found.