Three Advances in ForensicsOct 19, 2012
By Kate Nussenbaum
|LABRADOR was developed by scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to sniff for 30 classes of chemicals given off by decaying bodies. Courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Imagine placing the entire population of Wyoming’s capital city behind bars for crimes they did not commit. Studies estimate that roughly that number of people, or between one and five percent of the two million people in U.S. prisons, have been mistakenly convicted. One reason for these wrongful convictions is the fallibility of many of the methods currently used in forensic science.
The twin threats of criminal misidentification and new technology that may allow criminals to act more anonymously than ever before are spurring researchers around the world to find new ways to better understand mysterious crimes and correctly identify their perpetrators.
"I would say, in my humble opinion, that any case could be solved given enough time, money and resources," says Arpad Vass, a chemical forensics researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, referring to the promise of new forensic techniques.