In The News


2014-07-30 | Applying AFIS Case by Case
To address the recent concerns and published research regarding erroneous exclusions, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (MN BCA), in collaboration with 3M Cogent, Inc., conducted a study that led to the adoption of Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) technology in a novel “Case AFIS” application to reduce erroneous exclusions and catch more missed identifications. Using a Case AFIS approach, a process by which AFIS technologies were applied to specific cases, previously reported decisions were reviewed in this study for erroneous exclusions and missed identifications. This study shows that using the Case AFIS application would lead to more identifications and would be more efficient than the manual searching process.

2014-07-29 | Federal review stalled after finding forensic errors by FBI lab unit spanned two decades
U.S. officials began the inquiry after The Washington Post reported two years ago that flawed forensic evidence involving microscopic hair matches might have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people. Most of those defendants never were told of the problems in their cases.

2014-07-29 | Division of Forensic Science struggles to get going
Investigators have documented at least 52 incidents of thefts from the drug lab between 2010 and February 2014. Problems at the lab have jeopardized thousands of past drug convictions and some 200 pending drug prosecutions.. The courts are deciding if the lapses were so egregious that all drug convictions from those years, along with the pending drug cases, should be tossed out.

2014-07-21 | Man exonerated in 1982 D.C. killing; DNA reveals FBI error in conviction
A D.C. Superior Court judge concluded Monday that DNA evidence exonerates a man who spent 26 years in prison in the 1982 killing of a Washington woman. Kevin Martin’s case marks the fifth time in as many years that federal prosecutors in the District have acknowledged that errors by an elite FBI forensic unit had led to a conviction that should be overturned. U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. joined defense calls to vacate Martin’s conviction and declare him innocent of the attack on Ursula C. Brown. Machen cited DNA evidence that contradicts a previous finding by forensic experts linking Martin to a hair collected at the crime scene.

2014-07-17 | North East scientists winning awards for new groundbreaking fingerprint test
Experts at Arro SupraNano, which is based in the Herschel Annex of Newcastle University, has created a new test that can give detailed information about a person just from one fingerprint, in minutes.

2014-07-16 | Investigators blast Justice Dept.’s handling of FBI crime lab problems
In a sweeping, 138-page report, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General cited “serious deficiencies” in the work of the task force assigned in 1996 to follow up on potentially troublesome crime lab cases. In some instances, the problems associated with 13 specific lab workers were a matter of life and death.

2014-07-14 | DNA backlog persists at NC crime lab
Christopher Ortega’s death is unsolved more than eight months after he was found bruised and partially clothed in his North Asheville apartment. No one has been charged, no suspect description disseminated. His mother’s latest frustration stems from the state crime lab, which has been dogged for years with overwhelming case submissions and overworked analysts. At one point, Ortega was told the DNA evidence from her son’s apartment may not be available until January 2015 — 15 months after the 35-year-old died of asphyxiation.

2014-07-13 | DNA backlog persists at NC crime lab, stalls cases
The state crime lab’s three locations have continued to receive a “relentless” number of case submissions — 63,894, according to the latest fiscal year report available on the state operation. The problem at the lab has been exacerbated by the same issues that have caused a backlog in processing blood samples for DWI cases: not enough analysts to handle the workload. And its analysts spend a disproportionate amount of time waiting in court or trying to get there from Raleigh.

2014-07-02 | Pennsylvania police fail to fingerprint thousands of suspected criminals
In 2013, 30,000 suspected criminals whose charges included sex crimes, assaults and murder were not fingerprinted by Pennsylvania police, according to state records. State law requires that suspected offenders be fingerprinted within 48 hours of arrest. So, if thousands of people aren't getting fingerprinted, whose fault is it? “It’s up to the police to do it. It’s a mandatory function. It’s not anybody else’s job but the arresting department,” said Eric Radnovich, director of the Bureau of Justice Services at the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office. But police often pass the buck, relying on judges, jailers or even defendants themselves to be sure prints are made. In many cases, prints are made more than a year later, if they’re made at all. The social cost of not fingerprinting those who are arrested is not small: Without a fingerprint, a defendant has no criminal history.

2014-06-26 | Houston Crime Lab Tech Admitted to Bad Lab Procedures
A former Houston crime laboratory technician blamed for leaving behind dozens of questionable test results admitted to colleagues that he knew he wasn't following proper procedures after results from one of his tests were found faulty, according to a Houston Police Department internal investigation report.

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