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NCJ Number: 218408 Find in a Library
Title: Crime Scene Myths
Journal: Law and Order  Volume:55  Issue:4  Dated:April 2007  Pages:90-94
Author(s): Sharon Allen
Date Published: April 2007
Page Count: 5
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article dispels crime scene myths and discusses the information that is truly available from crime scene investigations.
Abstract: Crime dramas such as “CSI” distort the public’s perception of what type of information is available from crime scenes and how this information is analyzed. For example, the author points out that most fingerprints found at crime scenes are latent, or unintentional, and are generally made up of perspiration, which is 98 percent water and can dry out or disappear entirely. The author also points out that there is no scientific basis requiring a minimum number of points that must be present in two fingerprints to establish an identification. Instead, each print is decided upon individually. Another common myth rears its head when crime dramas indicate that AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) made a “hit” or an identification. In truth, AFIS only produces a list of possible matches that are then analyzed and “matched” by a latent examiner. Other myths that are dispelled in the article include the myth: (1) that if your fingerprints have ever been taken for any reason, such as for a job application, that your prints must be on file somewhere; (2) that the AFIS system only keeps fingerprints (it actually keeps palm prints); (3) gloves will prevent loss of evidence at crime scenes (any disruptions will cause evidence to be altered or lost); (4) all evidence must be marked (this practice can alter and destroy evidence); and (5) latent prints can identify a common suspect (which is true, but their identification may remain elusive). Finally, the author points out that just because an individual does not have a fingerprint record on file does not indicate the individual has no history of committing crimes. It only indicates that they have not been arrested and fingerprinted. Exhibits
Main Term(s): DNA fingerprinting; Forensic sciences
Index Term(s): Crime scene; Criminal investigation; Investigative techniques
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