Should our taxes pay for forensic science in the criminal justice system?  Should our taxes pay for forensic science in the criminal justice system?

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boblawrence's profile pic

boblawrence | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

The post by brettd covers well the need for and funding concepts regarding forensic science in our criminal justice system.  The question is moot since forensic science services are already paid for by tax payers.  Police agencies have their own forensic science units, funded through city property taxes.

Medicolegal Death investigation is undertaken by medical examiner or coroner offices throughout the country.  These are usually county facilities, whose budgets are paid for by county residential property taxes.  The coroner does the autopsies and pays for the forensic testing of samples.  Like cities, the county sheriff departments have CSI units as well.

Forensic science is very much a part of our criminarl justice system, and is already funded by the tax payer.  There is concern that if private funding were used there could be an unfair application of resources, and therefore occurrence of injustices.

That being said, there is now a somewhat unfair situation in that only certain accused defendants or convicted criminals receive private funding for their defense to hire a so-called "dream team".

auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I agree with scarletpimpernel on this one.  As things stand, we all (well, all who pay taxes) bear the burden of a justice system for all.  If we changed that, the only result I can see is a warped judicial system based on power, money, or both.  Think of the apparent abuses which occur when a famous defendant procures the best team of lawyers money can by.  In general terms, while this is perfectly legal, it certainly gives the impression of being able to "buy" the justice you want.  The same would be true if individuals had to pay to have the forensic data processed on their own cases.  The "haves" would almost always be found innocent, and the "have nots" would have a difficult time proving they're not guilty.  For example, we've had a rash of overturned verdicts for convicted felons based on forensic evidence such as DNA.  If inmates had to pay for that kind of testing on their own, the innocent would never be discovered.  I don't like having to pay for something I rarely use, but I like the alternative even less.  It's a system worth maintaining.

scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

What a good question--I had never thought about this before I saw your post! It does seem that if we want to have true justice, that we have to have forensic evidence as part of our justice system. However, after thinking about the high cost of DNA testing and other expensive, cutting-edge equipment, I can see why some would question whether taxpayer money should go toward those costs. The bottom line is that taxpayers already pay for court-appointed defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, bailiffs, police, and all the other parts of our criminal justice system, and it has come to a point where forensic science is an integral part of those elements; so how would we justify not paying for it?

It is disgusting to taxpayers when we see cases such as Scott Peterson's and to know that some of our money is going toward his trial (or others like his), but in the end, that money helped prove Scott Peterson guilty and to put him in prison where he hopefully can never kill again.

brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

This will probably end up on the discussion board at some point, as of course, this subject is a matter of opinion.  But if one tries to approach it objectively, forensic science is a means of gathering, preserving and identifying evidence from a crime scene, a criminal or the victim.  This is a critical part of the justice process, and is essential not only for bringing about convictions, but for convicting the right person, or freeing the innocent whenever possible.

Public tax dollars funding such efforts, therefore, would be the same as funding the actual police officers and judges.  It makes perfect sense that this type of science should be funded straight from the criminal justice budget,

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