Stories tagged Crime Scene Investigation

Yup, still not Friday, but posting a few Science Friday videos that I've missed lately.

Science Friday
Science FridayCourtesy Science Friday

From 3/25,

"Artist Angela Strassheim began her career as a forensic photographer in a crime lab. She soon left to focus on art full-time, but she didn’t entirely leave the field behind. Her body of work, Evidence, is a documentary art project created using forensic techniques she learned on the job. The striking, sometimes disturbing images ask the question: after a tragic event, what remains?"
Feb
10
2011

Chop it off and send it in!
Chop it off and send it in!Courtesy miss pupik
A couple weeks ago I posted a link to a project in which Dr. Patrick Wheatley was soliciting donations of hair for geochemical research. Intrigued, I contacted Patrick to ask him more about the hair project.

Me: What do you look for as you test the hair?

Patrick: I'm looking for changes in the ratios of isotopes in various elements. I hope to tie the changes in isotopic ratios to differences in geography, either through differences in the isotope ratios of local water supplies or fundamental deferences in the geology of the region where the hair was grown.

Me: How do those isotopes get in our hair in the first place?

Patrick: They are incorporated through our drinking water or diet.

Me: What will your findings help scientists do or understand? Is there a practical application for this research?

Patrick: This research is driven by a possible forensic application, knowing the past whereabouts of victims of crimes (perhaps dead and unable to talk about where they were or perhaps held in a secret location) or suspects of crimes (maybe unwilling to talk about where they have spent time recently). There are also possible medical applications.

You can still send hair in for the project. More information can be found at the project's website.

Feb
22
2009

Fingerprint errors: Fingerprint "science" is sometimes mistaken
Fingerprint errors: Fingerprint "science" is sometimes mistakenCourtesy blvesboy

Forensic science not always scientific

"The CSI Effect," is a reference to the popular television show CSI -- Crime Scene Investigation and its spin-offs.

In reality, our forensic science system, upon which criminal and civil litigation depends, has been found to be far from meeting scientific standards.

A National Research Council report, "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward," stated:

"The forensic science system in the United States has serious problems that can only be addressed by a national commitment to overhaul the current structure that supports the forensic science community,"

The report urges Congress to authorize and fund a new federal entity, the National Institute of Forensic Science, or NIFS, to oversee how forensic science is practiced in the United States.

232 wrongfully convicted prisoners found to be innocent

The report was welcomed by lawyers for the Innocence Project, which has employed DNA evidence to help free 232 wrongly convicted defendants.

For example, it mentions the case of attorney Brandon Mayfield who in 2004 was erroneously linked by digital fingerprint images to train bombing in Madrid that year. Mayfield was arrested and subsequently released when the FBI acknowledged that it had made a mistake.

Scientific standards needed

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said "many forensic disciplines lack the standards necessary to ensure their scientific reliability in court (and) that forensic laboratories and their experts do not have uniform, mandatory accreditation policies."

Sources:
Forensic Science System In U.S. Needs Overhaul, Information Week
Crime labs are seriously deficient, report says MSNBC