Time to investigate, correct biases

Fairness and impartiality are at the foundation of the American concept of justice. It has been eroded to an alarming extent.

Officials admitted last week that for more than 20 years before 2000, most FBI laboratory hair analysts slanted court testimony in trials to help prosecutors. Of the 28 hair sample examiners, 26 engaged in the practice.

Among cases in which flawed testimony was provided were 14 in which defendants died in prison – or were executed.

Coming on the heels of other revelations of law enforcement misconduct, the report last week adds to an increasing burden of mistrust.

In addition to misbehavior by individuals and entire departments within law enforcement agencies, institutional discrimination is a concern.

Faith in the Internal Revenue Service suffered from admissions the agency took punitive action against some conservative groups.

Trust in the Justice Department has to be balanced against decisions not to enforce drug and immigration laws in some places – and to view many ultra-conservatives as potential terrorists. The impartiality we expect from police, prosecutors and the courts includes enforcing laws whether those in power agree with them or not.

Failing to do that, targeting some individuals and groups while giving others free passes, and lying about evidence are serious concerns that eat away at trust.

This is an extraordinarily serious problem. Members of Congress should be investigating it. They also should be punishing those who distort the law to fit into their own personal and/or political biases.