Uploaded by Elijah Henson

Thoughts About Fingerprints 2 (1)

Thoughts About Fingerprints
Part 1
Before you read the article, Weighing Fingerprints, answer this question
1. Do you believe fingerprinting analysis should be used for conviction if this is the only evidence
that links a suspect to a crime? Explain your reasoning.
Read the article - “Weighing Fingerprints as Forensic Evidence” and answer the following four
1. In this story, fingerprints, which have historically been a widely accepted forensic tool, have
been subjected to questioning. Explain the argument Patrick Kent, Maryland Public Defender
and forensic expert, had about fingerprinting being an art and not a science.
2. Did the judge agree or disagree with Kent? Explain why.
3. How can this decision jeopardize other criminal investigations, current and past?
4. Tom Bush, FBI, had a convincing argument for using fingerprint evidence. Explain his argument.
Question: Going Further
1. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? At birth, all children should be
fingerprinted and those fingerprints entered into a national database, so that in the future it will
be easier to identify them." Explain your reasoning.
Part 2
Watch the NOVA video Forensics on Trial (Video is a separate attachment) and answer the questions
as you go.
Chapter 1: Preview
1. Based on the preview, what is Forensics on Trial about?
Chapter 2: The Landscape of a Finger
1. Briefly (but thoroughly) describe what happened in Madrid, Spain on March 11, 2004.
2. What technique was used to visualize the fingerprint relevant to the Madrid case and what are
its limitations?
3. Who did the FBI match the fingerprint to?
4. Who did Spanish officials determine was really responsible for the terrorist attack in Madrid?
5. Describe the new technology that is being tested for visualizing fingerprints. What is its major
6. After watching the video, did your opinion or feelings change about the situation, compared to
just reading about the event? Did seeing the images of the bombing, the accused, the police
work shift your feelings or interpretation? Explain why.
7. Do you feel a jury could be influenced by watching video or seeing images of the crime or crime
scene? Explain.
* Stop video here. You may wish to continue watching to see how bite marks, virtual autopsies and
compromised evidence are evaluated in this broadcast.
Part 3
Going Further: Lessons on Fingerprints Go to the following site:
Principles of Fingerprint Analysis
1. What are the three groups of friction ridge patterns?
To Each His Own
1. Why are fingerprints used as a means of identification?
When and how is fingerprint analysis used?
1. List and briefly explain several ways fingerprints can be used in the criminal justice system.
Read over the sections, Where Fingerprints May be Found and How Fingerprints are Collected. We
will be conducting several labs on collecting prints using different methods. We will refocus on those
techniques when it comes time for the lab
How and Where the Analysis is Performed
1. Explain what the analysis, comparison, evaluation and verification method is.
What are the limitations of fingerprint analysis?
1. Crime shows tend to lead people to believe that if a fingerprint is discovered, the case will be
solved and someone will be brought to justice. Explain the limitations of fingerprint analysis.
How is quality control and quality assurance performed?
1. In the beginning we heard an argument that fingerprint analysis is an art. Explain how scientists
ensure the most accurate analysis of this evidence.
Part 4
Going Further: Read at least 2 articles of your choice and write a summary followed by a reflection of
what you thought for each article.
These articles discuss the potential flaws with forensic evidence.
1. The Troubling Flaws in Forensic Science
2. Fingerprints: Not a Gold Standard
3. 2003 article: Fingerprints: Infallible Evidence?
Lesley Stahl Explores the Problem With Fingerprint Evidence
4. Faulty fingerprints:
5. Forensic Tools: What's Reliable and What's Not -So-Scientific PBS Frontline article