Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac
Police Announce High-tech Criminal Tracking System –
NEWSDAY, NY - Nov. 5, 2004
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...
we received a report on the ABFDE Daubert Symposium held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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
National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
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
Jules Epstein, Attorney at
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
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:
Compilation of a ‘Sourcebook’ listing all known writings, research
projects, books, articles etc. respecting fingerprint identification.
A careful review of the state of the science of fingerprint
identification based on what has been written and done in the past.
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.
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
Improve and expand the DNA testing capacity of Federal, State, and local crime
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;
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
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
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