08/20/10 — SBI trouble: Blood lab questions suggest perhaps whole system needs overhaul

View Archive

SBI trouble: Blood lab questions suggest perhaps whole system needs overhaul

The idea that so many cases that have been before North Carolina courts in the past few years possibly were influenced by shoddy work at the state's crime lab should scare anyone who wants to believe that the justice system in this country is fair and impartial.

And there will be some who will take advantage of the announcement of the investigation of the State Bureau of Investigation's lab procedures and results. They will claim everything from racial bias to just plain railroading of suspects.

And in some cases, there might be some people who are innocent and who are in the prison system because of bad blood evidence. But there are likely just as many who would have been there anyway.

We should be careful about whose protestations we listen to as this investigation continues.

But no matter how you slice it, the results of the attorney general's independent review scream for reform -- and a whole new measure of accountability for this important investigative body.

And if it turns out this is a widespread problem -- and there are more cases than not where incompetence or worse has occurred -- heads should roll and new leadership should be installed.

Too many questions about procedures and whether a process is fair are not just harmful to those who are being judged. Those doubts also take their toll on the families who seek justice for their lost loved ones.

It is up to North Carolina officials to make sure they can get that closure and that the guilty are punished, fairly.

Published in Editorials on August 20, 2010 10:41 AM