Throw Out Junk Behind Wrongful Convictions

Target: Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General

Goal: End use of bite mark analysis and other unreliable forensics approaches in criminal cases.

A man walks out of prison after serving 37 years for a rape and murder for which he was exonerated. Another man is liberated from a death sentence for the brutal murder of his girlfriend’s three-year-old daughter. And yet another innocent man serves a 23-year prison sentence due to one primary piece of “evidence”: a missing tooth. These wrongfully convicted individuals represent the dozens of inmates whom the Innocence Project has freed because of a now-discredited form of forensics.

Bite mark evidence rests on the notion that teeth are just as much of a unique identifier as fingerprints. But research from experts like the American Academy of Forensic Sciences has continually cast doubt on this assertion. They have reported that the analysis of bite marks and dental patterns in crimes lacks reliability and validity: two of the key markers for scientific credibility. Moreover, no major respected entity certifies individuals for this specific area of forensics, which means that people casting themselves as professional experts in the field are seemingly being misleading at best.

Despite the growing view of bite mark analysis as junk science and despite its role in an increasing number of wrongful convictions, many courts still deem this “evidence” admissible. Sign the petition below to help reverse a destructive trend that is destroying lives.


Dear Attorney-General Garland,

Levon Brooks, Kennedy Brewer, Willie Jackson, Ray Krone, Calvin Washington, James O’Donnell, Dan Young, Robert Stinson, Charles McCrory, and Keith Allen Harward: these men represent just some of the individuals who spent years (and sometimes decades) of their lives in prison for crimes they did not commit. All of these men also share one other tragic commonality: discredited bite mark analysis convicted them. And these men actually represent some of the “success stories” of the fight against this faulty form of forensic analysis. Some inmates have gone to their death pleading their innocence.

In the United States, a full 25 percent of exonerated inmates were convicted because of what many experts call junk science today, like bite mark analysis. No rigorous means of accreditation exists for many of these fields, and forensic experts have increasingly spoken out about their lack of credibility. So why are these tools that are being transformed into weapons (and that do not meet criteria set forth by the Federal Rules of Evidence, the Frye Standard, or the Daubert Standard) still allowed in so many courts of law?

People are losing their freedom and their lives while real perpetrators remain uninhibited in committing other atrocities and while victims are denied justice. The system can and should do better. Please make it a top priority to rid American justice of junk science.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ivan Babydov

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