The National Academy of Sciences report issued in February 2009, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, noted the need for a national code of ethics for forensic science. While most forensic science professional organizations have codes of ethics there is no universal set of ethical standards. Further compounding this issue is that membership in forensic science organizations, which have codes of ethics, is not a requirement for a job in a forensic science laboratory or to testify in court.
Forensic science codes of ethics are pathways to appropriate professional conduct in forensic science practice. For codes of ethics to have any force, they must be developed, have consequences when practitioners fail to comply and there needs to be a means to administer the code. This prescription suggests a need for forensic science oversight, an idea that has been debated but has yet to take root. A question for consideration is: How might a code of ethics be enforced (what consequences would follow a gross ethical breach) and how would a code be overseen? And finally, how can ethics be best taught to forensic scientists and administrators?