Why could the San Francisco crime lab operate with so many problems for such a long time? One reason: There’s little or no effective state oversight or regulation of local crime labs in California.
That seems like a glaring problem -- crime labs can mean the difference between guilt and innocent, the difference between a long prison term and a free life, between an innocent party getting wrongly convicted and a guilty party getting away with murder.
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano told me he’s worried that problems in cities and counties are going to continue unless somebody’s paying attention -- so he’s introducing a bill that would create some form of state oversight body to monitor crime labs and make sure they maintain credible standards.
“I think it’s like the BART Police, they aren’t going to reform unless the state tells them they have to,” Ammiano said. He’s going to have legislation drafted shortly.