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NOVA: Forensics On Trial

Airs Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Dr. Lowell Levine, an odontologist at the New York State Police Forensics Services Unit, compares a mold of Roy Brown's teeth to photos of bite marks from the autopsy of Sabina Kulakowski.

Penn State students connect strings to blood spatter, using a laser pointer in Penn State's crime scene cottage.
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Above: Penn State students connect strings to blood spatter, using a laser pointer in Penn State's crime scene cottage.

Robert Shaler, Director of Forensic Science Program at Penn State University.
Enlarge this image

Above: Robert Shaler, Director of Forensic Science Program at Penn State University.

Extract Your Own DNA

Behold your very own DNA in this do-it-yourself science experiment.

Can Science Stop Crime?

Explore the genetics behind criminal minds, the latest in lie detection, a human corpse “farm,” and more. "Can Science Stop Crime?" airs October 17, 2012 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV.

There is a startling gap between the glamorous television world of “CSI” and the gritty reality of the forensic crime lab. With few established scientific standards, no central oversight and poor regulation of examiners, forensics in the U.S. is in a state of crisis.

In "Forensics On Trial," NOVA investigates how modern forensics, including the analysis of fingerprints, bite marks, ballistics, hair and tool marks, can send innocent men and women to prison — and sometimes even to death row.

Of more than 250 inmates exonerated by DNA testing over the last decade, more than half of the wrongful convictions stemmed from invalid or improperly handled forensics.

With the help of vivid recreations of actual trials and cases, NOVA investigates today’s shaky state of crime science as well as cutting-edge solutions that could help investigators put the real criminals behind bars.

Science and Crime: Expert Q&A

Advances in behavioral genetics and neuroscience have the potential to revolutionize forensics in the courtroom. Do you have questions about how science is changing the way we fight crime? Submit them by October 19, 2012 at noon. Or "like" the questions you see, and we'll send the most popular ones to Associate Professor Nita Farahany, an expert in this area.

NOVA is on Facebook, and you can follow @novapbs on Twitter.

Video

Preview: NOVA: Forensics On Trial

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Watch Forensics on Trial Preview on PBS. See more from NOVA.

Above: There is a startling gap between the glamorous television world of “CSI” and the gritty reality of the forensic crime lab. With few established scientific standards, no central oversight and poor regulation of examiners, forensics in the U.S. is in a state of crisis. NOVA investigates how modern forensics, including the analysis of fingerprints, bite marks, ballistics, hair and tool marks, can send innocent men and women to prison — and sometimes even to death row.