Pinpointing Accuracy: Research Helps Solidify Evidence in CourtOct 01, 2012
By Barbara Kennedy
|Penn State forensic scientists are developing a new analysis technique for grading the quality of fingerprints. The technique produces a color-coded image of the print. Here, the red color marks poor quality, orange marks the area the examiner should use with caution, and green marks the high-quality areas of the print. Courtesy or Penn State
Do you know what all of your fingerprints look like? Would you be able to tell whether the pattern of ridges and valleys on a fingerprint was made by you or by someone else? If so, you might have what it takes to be a fingerprint examiner.
In courts throughout the world for the past hundred years, fingerprint experts have been deciding whether or not a print collected at a crime scene matches that of the person suspected of the crime. But in the U.S. adversarial court system, the opinion of fingerprint examiners has often been challenged over the past two decades by the lawyer for the accused person.
While it is commonly agreed that fingerprints taken under controlled conditions from any given individual are unique, the problem is that crime-scene prints are messy. They often are smeared; distorted; covered in blood, dust or sweat; or are only partial pictures of a pattern on a small part of a finger. Currently, examiners report with absolute certainty that the crime-scene fingerprint was made by the accused person; this claim increasingly is being challenged. Defense attorneys argue that examiners’ opinions are not scientifically supported and they attempt to have this clue rejected by judges in U.S. courts.
Source: Centre Daily Times