Forensic Science and the Criminal Justice System

Discipline: Chemistry
Instructor: Allen
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 08:00
End: 09:15
Field Work: Day 1 - Buenos Aires - Tuesday, 12 November | Argentina
Prerequisites: A year of chemistry or AP credit. Download Syllabus

As societies developed it was recognized that protection of the individual’s life and property required a system of laws, enforcement, and punishment.  As the methods of defining criminal acts evolved, the roles of different individuals in the justice system evolved. One of the most important modern elements in the criminal justice system has been the contributions of the scientist. This course will trace the evolution of the criminal justice system in the United States with particular attention to the role of the scientific expert witness. From the times when photographs were not considered as reliable evidence the role of the scientist has increased in helping to identify and catch criminals and ultimately to assist jurors (or judges) determine the guilt or innocence of an individual at trial. While a number of characteristics have been used in the past to identify criminals, the advent of characterizing an individual’s DNA has dramatically changed the role of the forensic scientist.  This course will trace the evolution of these testing methods and the work that was necessary for them to be accepted as scientifically reliable. Other scientific methods of identifying elements of a crime or for use as “class” evidence will be considered as well. In addition to lectures, the class will utilize cooperative learning as they work in groups or teams to more carefully explore how a forensic scientist works in the criminal justice system (including a mock trial)

Field Work

Country: Argentina
Day: 1 - Buenos Aires - Tuesday, 12 November

The ability to identify an individual by using trace amounts of DNA continues to revolutionize the criminal justice system.  This use of a scientific method to identity criminals has been the result of research carried out around the world.  We will visits one of the research labs at the University of Buenos Aires where this basic research in conducted.  There will be discussions with the scientists who help identify DNA markers that are useful for identification purposes, who develop the accurate and reliable analytical methods, and criminalists who apply these techniques to solve cases and get convictions.  How DNA can be used for forensic purposes depends upon how the criminal justice system in each country has evolved so we will be able to compare the systems in Argentina and the U.S. Academic Objectives: 1. Learn about advances in DNA Analysis of Forensic samples 2. Learn about difficulties in the analysis of real world samples from crime scenes 3. Learn about the international relationships in the field of Forensic Analysis