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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Thornton P. Knowles On Crime Scene Fingerprint Identification

While I'm not a criminalist, I'm skeptical regarding the reliability of crime scene fingerprint identification. It's true that no two people have the same fingerprints, but no one knows the degree to which the fingerprints from two people can be similar. This could lead to misidentification, particularly when an imperfect crime scene latent is compared to an inked, rolled-on impression. Most police fingerprint ID officers were trained as cops rather than objective scientists. Moreover, these practitioners tend to be biased toward law enforcement and prosecution. The widely made claim that no one has ever gone to prison on a false fingerprint identification is bogus. Proven cases of fingerprint misidentifications represent, in my view, just the tip of the false identification iceberg. Fingerprint identification is subjective by nature, and is not hard science.

Thornton P. Knowles

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