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A Deadly Serious Problem

Suddenly I’m hearing about coroners and autopsies and how our systems for investigating death are failing. If you’re like me, you haven’t given this much thought at all. My assumption has always been that just like on CSI, deaths are investigated and high tech equipment and forensics solve crimes. I feel pretty naïve but based on the upcoming episode of “Frontline: Post Mortem,” I don’t think I’m alone.

A collaboration between PBS’ Frontline, NPR, ProPublica and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley has uncovered a very broken system for investigating death. Autopsy rates have fallen dramatically and in many cases, the very people who are in charge of doing the investigations are corrupt and/or don’t have medical and scientific backgrounds.

As a result, not only do murderers go free and innocent people go to jail, but the crisis in death investigation in America is also a threat to public health. Think about a death that resulted from highly-contagious meningitis that doesn’t get investigated and ends up impacting lots of other people.

Pretty scary stuff I’d say. What do you think? Have you been affected by faulty forensics? Tune in on Wednesday, February 16 at 9 pm and then weigh in here.

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