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Social sciences/Political science/Legal system/Criminal law

In response to a Department of Justice request for public comment on advancing forensic science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, along with the American Chemical Society, Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, has submitted comments that highlight the need for a transparent and independent review of forensic science techniques to ensure that “rigorous science is used in convicting the guilty and exonerating the innocent.”
Deaths by accidental overdose of opioids are rising sharply, due to a new source of more potent, readily available synthetic opioid drugs. Opioid overdoses have already caused the country’s overall death rate to increase in 2015, the first time since 1993, when the country was coming to grips with AIDS. And, “the worst is yet to come,” a drug court judge said during a panel at the 2017 AAAS Science & Technology Policy Forum, which was held March 27-28 in Washington.

The characteristics of gun violence, risk and protective factors, prevention, gun safety technology, and the influence of video games were identified as key research priorities by a committee of the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, chaired by AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner.

“The complexity and frequency of gun-related violence combined with its impact on the health and safety of the nation’s residents make it a topic of considerable public health importance,” Leshner said.

Despite an explosion of research on the use of brain scans and other tools of science to help better determine a person’s guilt or innocence, experts at a AAAS-organized discussion said hopes that neuroscience might transform the legal system are unrealistic for now.