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Proceedings Paper

Methodological approach to crime scene investigation: the dangers of technology
Author(s): Peter D. Barnett
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Paper Abstract

The visitor to any modern forensic science laboratory is confronted with equipment and processes that did not exist even 10 years ago: thermocyclers to allow genetic typing of nanogram amounts of DNA isolated from a few spermatozoa; scanning electron microscopes that can nearly automatically detect submicrometer sized particles of molten lead, barium and antimony produced by the discharge of a firearm and deposited on the hands of the shooter; and computers that can compare an image of a latent fingerprint with millions of fingerprints stored in the computer memory. Analysis of populations of physical evidence has permitted statistically minded forensic scientists to use Bayesian inference to draw conclusions based on a priori assumptions which are often poorly understood, irrelevant, or misleading. National commissions who are studying quality control in DNA analysis propose that people with barely relevant graduate degrees and little forensic science experience be placed in charge of forensic DNA laboratories. It is undeniable that high- tech has reversed some miscarriages of justice by establishing the innocence of a number of people who were imprisoned for years for crimes that they did not commit. However, this papers deals with the dangers of technology in criminal investigations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 February 1997
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 2941, Forensic Evidence Analysis and Crime Scene Investigation, (10 February 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.266302
Show Author Affiliations
Peter D. Barnett, Forensic Science Associates (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2941:
Forensic Evidence Analysis and Crime Scene Investigation
John Hicks; Peter R. De Forest; Vivian M. Baylor, Editor(s)

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