Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

Forensic Science Saves Lives

Forensic science has been one field that is notoriously known for both its ‘gory’ field of science, as well as its ability to capture the curiosity of the nation.  This field is constantly evolving and degrees within it are easily applicable to many different industries, mostly relating to crime and medical expertise.  Forensic science has recently had the eye of the nation upon it because of a recent news story relating to the supposed execution in Texas of an innocent man.

Cameron Todd Willingham was a man who was executed in 2004 for deliberately setting a fire which killed his three small children.  However, in recent years, forensic science has reached new levels which has allowed more scientific analysis into the case, thanks to many of his friends and family who have maintained his innocence over the years.  This has received so much national attention within the news because he may become the first person who was innocently executed based on new scientific discoveries.  When his case first reached fire investigators in 1991, after the fire two days before Christmas, it has been revealed that many investigators not only mishandled evidence, but also relied on archaic techniques in determining arson.  The District Attorney of the time never developed a motive for the fire, and eventually relied on the evidence that he had been drinking and was arguing with his wife at the time because the children were aggravating him. 

However, multiple accounts of the day of the fire demonstrate how distraught Willingham was over the loss of his children, and how he had to be restrained from returning back into the house to reach his children.  Recent forensic evidence has opened the possibility that the fire was caused by a heater within the children’s room which had been notorious for overheating in the past.  While the case has recently been re-opened for further investigation, many new scientists have entered the investigation and have determined that there is little likelihood that Willingham set the fire based on evidence at the scene of the crime.  Forensic science is more than simply looking deep into crimes such as this, but also involves the use of knowledge and senses which many students never before realized they had.  Many cases require forensic science in order to prove the defendant did or did not commit the crime in question, and forensic scientists may be responsible for proving that an individual is innocent.  This is an ever-evolving industry and the satisfaction that you have saved an innocent person from conviction is one feeling which makes the entire field and education worthwhile.  If forensic science had been evolved in the past to the way it is now, perhaps Willingham would have had a chance to remain off of death row, and would have been able to mourn his children in private without being labeled as a killer.

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