Science Thursday – January 17, 2013


A crime lab in Iowa fires an analyst over errors, St. Paul looks to hire a new Forensic Lab Manager after a year mired in controversy, and Durham looks to resolve backlogs of evidence processing. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:


When a series of errors with fingerprint evidence was discovered during an internal review, a crime lab in Iowa

moved to fire the analyst responsible

. Various local authorities potentially affected by the mistakes were informed, and authorities claim the errors did not result in any wrongful convictions.


After a lapse in protocol

caused the St. Paul crime lab to shut down last year

, the newly posted Forensic Lab Manager position seeks someone who can build a strong scientific foundation at the lab. The position will require evaluating standards, creating procedural goals and following accreditation standards.


The backlog of crime scene evidence at the North Carolina State Bureau of Information has caused city leaders in Durham to consider

opening a local crime lab

. The move could save money by shortening the time defendants remain in jail since current delays extend 6 to 8 months for evidence processing.


A study completed at the University of Virginia suggests that

DNA databases help identify suspects and lead to a higher rate of convictions

. Jennifer Doleac, who authored the study, used data from seven states involving thousands of offenders.


After hearing that more than 800 cases at the New York City medical examiner office were under review,

the Legal Aid Society demanded that the city turn over further information

. The City Council, which announced the creation of an emergency oversight committee, worries about cross contamination and the impact of missing possible evidence in rape kits.

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