Junk Science in the American Criminal Justice System. M. Chris Fabricant

No one will ever know how many innocent people have been sent to prison because of junk science and flawed forensics. In this episode, we hear from Innocence Project attorney M. Chris Fabricant about how America’s broken and racist criminal justice system often relies on bogus scientific evidence for convictions. 

Chris is the author of the new book, “Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System.” Best-selling writer John Grisham calls it an “intriguing and beautifully crafted book that …illustrates how wrongful convictions occur.”

We explore the urgent need to fix the system and improve the quality of evidence presented in courtrooms. Independent crime labs are among the solutions that we discuss.

“Jurors go into court with the expectation that there will be scientific evidence available, and that this evidence will be conclusive. This is just not the reality at all,” Chris tells us.

We learn that forensic “experts” call themselves scientists but the current system lacks safeguards that keep science objective. Worse, this very questionable discipline has been corrupting the American justice system since at least the 1970s.

Chris Fabricant is the director of strategic litigation for the Innocence Project— a remarkable legal organization that works to free prisoners jailed for crimes they did not commit.


Over three decades, the Innocence Project has freed more than 300 unjustly convicted prisoners. And more than 40% of those cases involved the misuse of forensic evidence.

In this episode, we hear about cases of people wrongly convicted, many of them on death row. The interview begins with the remarkable and tragic case of Eddie Lee Howard, who spent 26 years in prison insisting that he was innocent. He was finally freed early last year after his murder conviction was overturned after a years-long legal defense by The Innocence Project.

Recommendation: Richard and Jim both read and recommend “Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World”, by Simon Winchester.

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