develop graduate education programs designed to cut across organizational, programmatic, and disciplinary boundaries. To make these programs appealing to potential students, they must include attractive scholarship and fellowship offerings. Emphasis should be placed on developing and improving research methods and methodologies applicable to forensic science practice and on funding research programs to attract research universities and students in fields relevant to forensic science. NIFS should also support law school administrators and judicial education organizations in establishing continuing legal education programs for law students, practitioners, and judges.

The Medicolegal Death Investigation System

Although steps have been taken to transform the medicolegal death investigation system, the shortage of resources and lack of consistent educational and training requirements (particularly in the coroner system)26 prevent the system from taking full advantage of tools—such as CT scans and digital X-rays—that the medical system and other scientific disciplines have to offer. In addition, more rigorous efforts are needed in the areas of accreditation and adherence to standards. Currently, requirements for practitioners vary from nothing more than age and residency requirements to certification by the American Board of Pathology in forensic pathology.

Funds are needed to assess the medicolegal death investigation system to determine its status and needs, using as a benchmark the current requirements of NAME relating to professional credentials, standards, and accreditation. And funds are needed to modernize and improve the medicolegal death investigation system. As it now stands, medical examiners and coroners (ME/Cs) are essentially ineligible for direct federal funding and grants from DOJ, DHS, or the Department of Health and Human Services (through the National Institutes of Health). The Paul Coverdell National Forensic Science Improvement Act is the only federal grant program that names medical examiners and coroners as eligible for grants. However, ME/Cs must compete with public safety agencies for Coverdell grants; as a result, the funds available to ME/Cs are inadequate. The simple reality is that the program has not been sufficiently funded to provide significant improvements in ME/C systems.

In addition to direct funding, there are other initiatives that should be pursued to improve the medicolegal death investigation system. The Association of American Medical Colleges and other appropriate profes-

26

Institute of Medicine. 2003. Workshop on the Medicolegal Death Investigation System. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement