The Champion

August 2006 , Page 27 

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A Cautionary Note About Fingerprint Analysis and Reliance on Digital Technology

By Michael Cherry; Edward Imwinkelried

Note: This article previously appeared in Judicature, Volume 89, Number 6, May-June 2006. It is reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.

Although there are advantages to digital fingerprint technology, we must be aware of the limitations.

Today the public is acutely aware of the importance of forensic science. Our morning papers regularly carry stories about the role of DNA evidence in both convicting the guilty and exonerating the wrongfully convicted. At night, the popular CSI television programs dramatize the role that forensic experts play in criminal investigations.

Although DNA evidence now attracts the greatest attention, for decades fingerprint analysis was the gold standard in forensic analysis. In fingerprint analysis, an examiner compares two images or representations of the friction ridge patterns on fingers. In the past, in criminal cases, one of the two images, often referred to as the “rolled” image, was typically produced when a person was arrested. As part of

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