"In order for qualified forensic science experts to testify competently about forensic evidence, they must first find the evidence in a usable state and properly preserve it.”
- National Academy of Sciences, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (2009)
Evidence management is a critical facet of the criminal justice system. At every stage, handlers of evidence must ensure that it has not been compromised, contaminated, or degraded and that its chain of custody is tracked. The criminal justice system’s growing reliance on forensic evidence in casework adds complexity to the already difficult job of managing vast inventories of property and evidence held by law enforcement agencies.
The NIST Forensic Science Research Program, in collaboration with the National Institute of Justice, as well as a host of other organizations, committee members, and state and local governments, have established a role in the development of research and guidance in the management of evidence. Long standing expertise in the stability and degradation of various materials and advanced technological capabilities make NIST a unique partner in developing innovative perspectives in addressing evidence management challenges.
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Digital Evidence Preservation: Considerations for Evidence Handlers - September 2022
The preservation of digital evidence (DE) presents unique problems beyond traditional evidence preservation. Digital Evidence Preservation: Considerations for Evidence Handlers addresses considerations related to the preservation of digital evidence. This document is part of a series on evidence management and its primary audience is evidence management professionals. The document discusses traditional sources of digital evidence including physical storage media and digital objects and also addresses law enforcement generated digital evidence. The document further discusses key considerations related to digital evidence preservation and the difference from the preservation of other evidence types. Related considerations, such as acquisition of digital evidence are only addressed when there is overlap with preservation.
Committee charged with developing evidence management guidelines across forensic disciplines. Core group assisting in the management of related evidence management projects.
The results of a national survey of handlers of evidence done in 2021 will be published soon.
NIST grant awardee project. Hosted workshop to gather requirements for automated tracking and sensing technologies for forensic application.
Stakeholders gathered at the NIST Gaithersburg Campus to discuss evidence management issues and the progress of EMSC.
Working group charged with developing best practices for the preservation, storage, retention, and disposition of biological evidence.
Project assessing the usefulness of automated identification technologies such as RFID and IoT on the management of forensic evidence.
Information and resources related to the storage of biological evidence.
Authors: Barbara Guttman, Douglas R. White, and Tracy Walraven
Authors: Susan M. Ballou, Margaret C. Kline, Mark D. Stolorow, Melissa K. Taylor, Shannan R. Williams, Phylis S. Bamberger, Burney Yvette, Larry Brown, Cynthia E. Jones, Ralph Keaton, William Kiley, Karen Thiessen, Gerry LaPorte, Joseph Latta, Linda E. Ledray, Randy Nagy, Linda Schwind, Stephanie Stoiloff, Brian Ostrom