Category Archives: Forensic Industry News

National Institute Of Justice Releases Best Practices For Sexual Assault Kits

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) today released a report on National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach.
The report describes a victim-centered response to sexual assault cases that positively impacts sexual assault response, the experiences of victims, and ultimately results in safer communities.
An NIJ working group consisting of victims, victim advocates, sexual assault nurse and medical examiners, prosecutors, forensic scientists, and law enforcement officials, created the report in response to the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act of 2013, which focuses on the accurate, timely, and effective collection and processing of DNA evidence in sexual assault investigations.

Justice Dept. tries to shore up forensic science, testimony

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is trying to shore up faltering confidence in forensic science and how its experts describe their findings in court, a push that comes months after similar efforts dating to the Obama administration were suspended.
The department said Monday it is reviving work on federal standards for forensic expert testimony, an effort initiated following revelations in 2015 that FBI experts had overstated the strength of evidence involving microscopic hair analysis in hundreds of cases dating back decades.

New DNA test identifies 9/11 victim’s remains nearly 16 years later

The remains of a man killed at the World Trade Centre on September 11 have been identified nearly 16 years after the terror attacks.
His name was withheld at his family’s request, the New York City medical examiner’s office said.
The announcement marked the first new identification made since March 2015 in the painstaking effort.

The Fight Against Human Trafficking

DNA-Prokids, conceived by Dr. Jose Lorente at the University of Grenada, applies a scientific solution to the problem. The idea is simple: reunite families by testing parental DNA against that of children pulled from suspicious circumstances and illegal adoption centers. Lorente partnered in the project with the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. Since 2007, DNA-Prokids has reunited more than 700 kids with their parents while preventing more than 200 illegal adoptions.

Heritage’s Muhlhausen to Head NIJ

David Muhlhausen of the Heritage Foundation has been named director of the National Institute of Justice, the U.S. Justice Department’s research arm, the White House announced. He succeeds Nancy Rodriguez of Arizona State University, who had been NIJ director since early 2015.
Muhlhausen, a research fellow in empirical policy analysis at Heritage, has “championed using rigorous, empirical research to formulate and evaluate government policies,” the White House said.

Researchers think they know where Amelia Earhart died — days after a photo suggested she lived

Despite recent claims to the contrary, there’s no doubt in Ric Gillespie’s mind that Amelia Earhart died as a castaway after her plane crashed on a desolate island in the Pacific Ocean.
But he realizes the rest of the world needs a smoking gun.

Belarus-Russia Union State launches DNA Identification program

TULA, 6 July (BelTA) – The Belarus-Russia Union State is starting the DNA Identification program, State Secretary of the Union State Grigory Rapota told the media on 6 July, BelTA has learned.

Officials: Expert ‘wasn’t alarmed’ by rape kits in boxes with mold

After touring the Austin police storage unit this week where hundreds of sexual assault kits were found this spring with apparent mold, officials said Thursday they have renewed confidence in their belief that samples aren’t compromised and cases won’t be affected.
Officials from the Austin Police Department, Capital Area Private Defender Service, Travis County district attorney’s office and independent expert Bruce Budowle, a University of North Texas Health Science Center professor, toured the facility Monday. They shared their findings, including pictures of the moldy boxes, with the Travis County Commissioners Court during a special meeting Thursday.

Science organizations renew call for independent U.S. committee on forensics

Leading U.S. science organizations called on the Justice Department to renew an abandoned partnership with independent scientists to help raise forensic science standards, warning bluntly that doubts about questioned techniques have grown to the point that “society’s faith in the American justice system is at risk.”
The groups, led by the nation’s largest general scientific body and professional societies representing chemists, statisticians and human behavioral and brain researchers, were responding to the Trump administration’s decision to replace the National Commission on Forensic Science with an in-house law enforcement task force and yet-to-be-named adviser.

Missouri Man Cleared in 1997 Sex Case by DNA Evidence

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man who spent nearly two decades in mental hospitals after entering a disputed plea in the 1997 sexual assault of a teenager has been cleared of the crime after genetic evidence was re-tested and excluded him as a suspect.

Orange County supervisors pass $6.2 billion budget, which increases deputies’ pay, hires more forensic scientists

The sheriff’s department also will add four new deputy positions to patrol the county’s unincorporated areas, four crime lab analysts to test DNA in criminal cases, and six forensic scientists to address a backlog in testing sexual assault evidence. Those additional scientists will help process rape kits in under a month – which in line with national recommendations – instead of the 30 to 45 days the process now takes in the county.

London fire may have destroyed DNA needed to ID victims

The devastating fire that struck a high-rise tower in London may have been so powerful that it destroyed much of the DNA evidence needed to identify its victims.
As firefighters keep searching the charred ruins of the Grenfell Tower public housing complex with sniffer dogs and drones, Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy said there was “a risk that, sadly, we may not be able to identify everybody.”

After 27 Years, Judge Overturns Rape Conviction

A Dane County judge on Friday overturned the rape conviction of a man who has served 27 years in prison largely on the strength of a single hair after the FBI admitted its analyst’s conclusion tying Richard Beranek to that hair was flawed.DNA testing has confirmed that neither the hair nor semen found in the perpetrator’s underwear left at the scene of the sexual assault matched Beranek, according to Beranek’s motion for a new trial.

The shifting science of DNA in the courtroom

(CNN)This summer marks 30 years since one of the biggest advances in criminal investigations, DNA profiling, identified a killer.
Every cell within every living creature contains DNA material. That material carries instructions that dictate everything from how tall you’ll be to what diseases you may develop, and it’s unique to you. Forensic scientists can find it in biological material left on a crime scene or body, like hair, saliva or even skin tissue.

Pooler gifts land, approves plans for new GBI crime lab

Officials in Pooler this week turned over land and signed off on plans for a new regional crime laboratory for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.City Council members in the west Chatham city voted unanimously Monday to approve site plans for the new GBI campus — a combined 66,000-square-foot facility comprised of a three-story forensic crime lab and a one-story morgue.