Saturday, February 19, 2011

NPR Series on Death Investigation in America

We imagine an American criminal investigations system that looks a lot like CSI: with 21st century science, driven professionals, and limitless resources at our disposal, no bad deed should ever go unnoticed, or unpunished.

The reality of forensic science in America is startlingly different. A collaboration between NPR, ProPublica, and PBS Frontline uncovers the alarming state of America's coroner and medical examiner offices.

The investigative series Post Mortem: Death Investigation in America exposes a deeply-flawed system that allows coroners without medical degrees to diagnose causes of death, sends innocent people to prison, and allows many crimes to go unpunished, due to mistaken cause-of-death findings. Budget shortfalls and a shortage of "death detectives" leave many coroner offices overwhelmed with cases and incompetent coroners continuing to sign death certificates despite a history of mistakes.

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