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G o o d   M o r n i n g !
via THE WEEKLY DETAIL
 
Monday, November 8, 2004

The purpose of the Detail is to help keep you informed of the current state of affairs in the latent print community, to provide an avenue to circulate original fingerprint-related articles, and to announce important events as they happen in our field.

Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac
 

Police Announce High-tech Criminal Tracking System NEWSDAY, NY  - Nov. 5, 2004 ...Automated Fingerprint Identification System replaces the old setup of mailing fingerprint cards to the state or FBI for history checks...

Unproven Forensic Techniques Sway Courts, Erode Justice   CHICAGO TRIBUNE, IL  - Nov. 3, 2004 ...long considered unbiased and untainted, crime labs and analysts are facing new scrutiny and tough questions about their accuracy...

The Claim: Identical Twins Have Identical Fingerprints   NEW YORK TIMES, NY - Nov. 2, 2004 ...any forensics expert will tell you that there is at least one surefire way to tell them apart: identical twins do not have matching fingerprints...

Missouri's Backlog on Fingerprint Checks Continues ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, MO - Oct. 31, 2004 ... backlog of fingerprint checks continues to prevent hundreds of prospective foster parents from welcoming children into their homes...

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Last week
we received a report on the ABFDE Daubert Symposium held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This week

Joe Polski brings us the Monthly IAI Update including the results of the NIJ Fingerprint Meeting, and
Beth Lavach of ELS and associates distills the possible fingerprint-related portion of the Justice For All Act of 2004.  The entire content of the ELS summary is not present, because most of it deals with DNA.  But a portion of the summary explains an exception that will be of interest to latent print examiners, so that is included in this week's Detail.
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National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Fingerprint Meeting

On October 26th and 27th, NIJ hosted in Washington, DC an international panel of fingerprint practitioners and other stakeholders in the fingerprint community to discuss research needs with respect to fingerprint identification.  It is NIJ’s intent to issue a solicitation seeking proposals to further validate the scientific underpinnings of fingerprint identification.  The following IAI members participated in that panel:

Steve Meagher             
Vici Inlow                    
John Neilson                
Glenn Langenburg      
Mike Campbell             
Joe Polski                    
David Ashbaugh           
Max Houck
Kevin Lothridge           
Frank Fitzpatrick          
Alan McRoberts           
Christophe Champod
Carol Henderson          
Ed German

Others:

Jules Epstein, Attorney at Law                          
Susan Narveson, NIJ                
David Stoney, Director, McCrone Institute         
Anne Marie Mazza, National Academies
Joe Cecil, Federal Judicial Center                      
Terry Hess, TSWG
Murray Loew, Professor, GWU                        
Sarah Hart, Director, NIJ
Robin Jones, NIJ                                              
Melissa Taylor, NIJ
Lois Tully, NIJ                                                 
Harish Srinibasan, State Univ. of New York
John Morgan, NIJ

The first day of the meeting consisted of a series of presentations outlining various aspects of fingerprint related issues as seen through the eyes of the presenters;  those included Max Houck, Anne Marie Mazza,  Christoph Champod, Steve Meagher, Alan McRoberts, Harish Srinibasan and Carol Henderson.  Some time was devoted to discussion although the bulk of discussion occurred on the second day.

Alan McRoberts brought to the group a draft recommendation from SWGFAST dealing with topics to be identified by research.  This list was complied at the most recent SWGFAST meeting and became the basis for final recommendations to NIJ as they begin the task of carefully crafting a solicitation.  Wording of the solicitation will be returned to the above group for review.  Publication of the solicitation is planned in January, 2005.

Sufficient to say at this point the topics came down to three general areas:

1)                  Compilation of a ‘Sourcebook’ listing all known writings, research projects, books, articles etc. respecting fingerprint identification.

2)                  A careful review of the state of the science of fingerprint identification based on what has been written and done in the past.

3)                  The specific wording of research projects was discussed at great length.  The essence of the final recommendations regarding research to support the premise and develop a model to address commonality supporting individuality (uniqueness) and a model of sufficiency and reliability for matching and exclusion.  There were a number of ancillary issues such as practitioner performance, statistical issues, population studies, sampling etc.  NIJ will now take these recommendations and craft the final solicitation.

More specific information will follow in the JFI and future Monthly Updates.

Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations (CFSO) Update

You will likely recall that last spring the CFSO organizations were named in federal legislation to work with NIJ in compiling what has become known as the 180 Day Study.  The purpose of that study was to get an idea of the needs of the forensic sciences beyond DNA.  I’m happy to say that study was completed and also want to thank many of you for completing the questionnaire disseminated from this office.  It was very helpful in crafting our final response. 

A recent development highlights just how important the visibility raised by that study has become.  During October the House and Senate agreed upon language to allow crime laboratories or other forensic service providers to apply for funding from the DNA initiative and apply that funding to other areas of forensic science if the agency can demonstrate to NIJ they have no need for DNA funding.  In other words if there is no backlog or other DNA related need for those funds.  What that means is approximately $155 million dollars will be available not only for DNA uses but also for non-DNA uses if the agency can certify a non-DNA need as noted above.  That development is one which we have fought long and hard to obtain.  That means if your agency does not have a backlog of DNA cases but needs AFIS related equipment or laboratory instrumentation for example, it will be possible to apply for funding for that type of non-DNA application even though the money comes from the DNA initiative.

The language of the bill is a little tricky but it also appears there is funding available to assist laboratories or other forensic service providers such as fingerprint units, identification units etc. with the costs associated with accreditation.  More information will follow as these issues are clarified.

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Re: The Justice for All Act of 2004

Re:  The Justice for All Act of 2004 - the Short Title

 

H.R.5107, the Justice for All Act of 2004 was passed by both House and Senate and sent to the President on October 19, 2004.

 

Its stated purposes are to:
 

·        Protect crime victims' rights

·        Eliminate the substantial backlog of DNA samples collected from crime scenes and convicted offenders

·        Improve and expand the DNA testing capacity of Federal, State, and local crime laboratories

·        Increase research and development of new DNA testing technologies

·        Develop new training programs regarding the collection and use of DNA evidence

·        Provide post-conviction testing of DNA evidence to exonerate the innocent, and

·        Improve the performance of counsel in State capital cases.
 

Introduced by Rep James Sensenbrenner, it has had several cosponsors and gone through a number of revisions and amendments.

H.R. 5107 consists of four (4) Titles:

I - Scott Campbell, Stephanie Roper, Wendy Preston, Louarna Gillis, and Nila Lynn Crime Victims' Rights Act
II - The Debbie Smith Act of 2004
III - DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act of 2004
IV - Innocence Protection Act of 2004

Within the Debbie Smith Act of 2004, there are provisions for the use of funds for non-DNA related forensic analysis:

The use of funds for other forensic sciences may be approved by the Attorney General for grants to a State or unit of local government to alleviate a backlog of cases with respect to a forensic science other than DNA analysis. The State or unit of local government must
certify to the Attorney General that in such State or unit:

(A) All of the purposes set forth in subsection (a) have been met

(B) A significant backlog of casework is not waiting for DNA analysis, and

(C) There is no need for significant laboratory equipment, supplies, or additional personnel for timely DNA processing of casework or offender samples; and
demonstrates to the Attorney General that such State or unit requires assistance in alleviating a backlog of cases involving a forensic science other than DNA analysis.

In the event that a laboratory which has received funds under this Act has undergone an external audit conducted to determine whether the laboratory is in compliance with standards established by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the audit, identifies measures to remedy deficiencies the State or unit of local government shall implement any such remediation as soon as practicable.

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