In 2003, investigative journalists discovered an unsettling truth about
the Houston Police Department Crime Laboratory. According to reports,
the lab hired incompetent and biased analysts who overstated evidence
against hundreds of criminal defendants and put two innocent people behind
bars. In short, police officers ran the lab instead of scientists, compromising
quality and even objectivity.
Since then, the Houston City Counsel removed the lab from police control
and restructured it under a new name, the Houston Forensic Science Center.
Since then, the lab has made significant strides – ones the people
of Houston should be proud of, said
Houston Chronicle reporters William C. Thompson and Cliff Spiegelman in a recent article.
Thirteen years later, some are suggesting a seemingly absurd change: Putting
the lab back under police control. But for many people, this idea doesn’t
Under new management, the lab’s top administrative team has an in-depth
scientific background. New administration not only reduced backlogs but
also implemented creative, demanding procedures to improve the center’s
overall performance – even building safeguards against bias and
error. Even though the Houston Forensic Science Center faces the same
challenges as other crime labs (time and resource shortages), administrators
have been transparent and prudent in the allocation of both.
Despite the lab’s undeniable progress, an article from
Police Quarterly argued that leaving the lab as an independent entity could create “serious,
Members of the Harris County Commissioners Court sparked renewed interest
in the lab earlier this month when they suggested the county take over
the center, merging it with Harris County crime labs.
Others believe shaking up the center’s structure would disrupt any
progress it’s made in recent years. Peter Stout, the chief operating
officer at the science center said, “I think cooperation between
the two organizations is entirely possible. But [a] merger? They risk
backing up demonstrable progress that we’ve made to this point.”
Before it became the Houston Forensic Science Center, the lab was thought
to be one of the worst crime labs in the country; today, it’s on
its way to becoming one of the most successful, and merging it with the
police department may not be worth the risk of losing this progress.
At The Law Offices of Jed Silverman, we are committed to justice. As
Houston criminal defense attorneys, we help people facing serious criminal accusations. If you’re seeking
a lawyer or need more information about our legal services,
contact our office now for a free legal consultation.