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Fire Investigation: A Plain Language Summary

Following a crucial 2009 report by the National Academies of Science (NAS), doubts about the validity and reliability of forensic practices have been increasingly raised. The NAS Report noted that most forensic disciplines have not been subjected to rigorous scientific study, arising as they have from crime labs, not academia. Further, there was no way to know which aspects of these disciplines were based on a solid scientific footing and which were not. This report offers a "plain language" overview of fire investigation, and highlights the key findings and recommendations of a more technical report. This summary is divided into the two main aspects of fire investigation, the fire scene and the debris analysis. The report points to future directions that much-needed research should take, and should help key actors in the criminal justice system–law enforcement, lawyers, and judges–make more informed decisions.


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