Dr. Anders Persson lecturing in front of projection of 3D skull at Sweden's Center for Medical Image Science and Visualization, showing how a "digital scalpel" can be used to expose a virtual cross-section of the interior of the skull.

There is a startling gap between the glamorous television world of “CSI” and the gritty reality of the forensic crime lab. With few established scientific standards, no central oversight and poor regulation of examiners, forensics in the U.S. is in a state of crisis.

NOVA investigates how modern forensics, including the analysis of fingerprints, bite marks, ballistics, hair and tool marks, can send innocent men and women to prison — and sometimes even to death row. Of more than 250 inmates exonerated by DNA testing over the last decade, more than half of the wrongful convictions stemmed from invalid or improperly handled forensics. With the help of vivid recreations of actual trials and cases, NOVA investigates today’s shaky state of crime science as well as cutting-edge solutions that could help investigators put the real criminals behind bars.

Watch Forensics on Trial Preview on PBS. See more from NOVA.

NOVA: Forensics on Trial, Wednesday at 9 p.m. on PBS 6.

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