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Monday, August 21, 2006

The purpose of the Detail is to help keep you informed of the current state of affairs in the latent print community, to provide an avenue to circulate original fingerprint-related articles, and to announce important events as they happen in our field.
Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac

DA Wants Review of State Police Crime Lab Record Keeping NEWSDAY, NY - Aug 18, 2006 ...investigation into whether a state crime lab corrupted evidence in a county court drug trial...

Fingerprint Procedures Upset SUNDAY TIMES, AUSTRALIA - Aug 17, 2006 ...court ruled it was wrong for officers to take fingerprints as standard procedure when they already knew someone's identity...

Leading Fingerprint Technology Comes to South Georgia  WALB-TV, GA - Aug 14, 2006 is the first in Georgia to receive the Vacuum Metal Deposition System...

Convicted Warren Bank Robber Facing Attempted Armed Robbery Charge THE BLUFFTON NEWS, IN - Aug 17, 2006 ...The lab matched them to Lloyd... He denied even being there that day...

Recent CLPEX Posting Activity
Last Week's Board topics containing new posts
Moderated by Steve Everist
Cowans -- Error or Misconduct?
L.J.Steele 18 Sun Aug 20, 2006 2:42 pm

One Discrepancy Rule
Michele Triplett 3863 Sun Aug 20, 2006 2:12 pm

AFIS Networks
Whisler 162 Thu Aug 17, 2006 1:08 am

DNA transfer from fingerprint brush?
I. Farrell 654 Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:10 pm

Why Experts Make Errors
charlton97 693 Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:48 pm

Employment Opportunity in California!
Hillary Moses 109 Wed Aug 16, 2006 4:03 pm



No major updates on the site this week.


Last week

Joe Polski brought us the August, 2006 IAI Update.

This week

Stanley Aronson offers insight into the genesis of the study of fingerprints that sparked the discipline as we know it today.


An Ailing Physician Contributes to Forensic Science
By Stanley M. Aronson,
Excerpts from the Providence Journal, Published 8/14/06 at:

[William] Herschel was a 44-year-old British physician assigned to the obscure post of Hoogly, in India. The year was 1877 and Herschel, along with many on his staff, suffered for months from [a] parasitic form of dysentery. Records indicate that Herschel was profoundly ill, and his colleagues described him as pale and hollow-cheeked, with lusterless eyes and feeble voice. He often conducted his work from a cot, since he was too weak to walk or even sit at his desk. Much of his work was administrative, including paying the many Indians hired by the British.

Over the many months of debilitating diarrheal illness, Herschel became morbidly fascinated with the ridges and whorls on the skin of his fingertips. To diminish boredom, he began a notebook of fingerprints, using ordinary ink. Over the years, Herschel made two discoveries: First, a person's fingerprint pattern never changes; and second, each person's fingerprints are distinguishable from others'.

On Aug. 15, 1877, Herschel wrote to his superior describing a new method of personal identification. He had been faced with the same problem confronting many of his colleagues: How to make certain that the laborer lined up to receive his pay was indeed the person he claimed to be, since, to the insensitive British, the Indian workers tended to look alike. A means of identification more infallible than photography was sought, and so Herschel had all of his many employees place their fingerprints on their employment record; when they came to receive payment, their fingerprints were compared with the original imprint.

Herschel's health deteriorated, and in 1880 he was sent back to England. The Oct. 28, 1880, issue of the scientific journal Nature carried a letter from a Scottish physician, Henry Faulds, describing fingerprinting as a way to identify criminals. A dejected Herschel hastily wrote to the journal describing his long experience in the forensic use of fingerprinting. Both physicians then independently wrote to Scotland Yard, advocating fingerprinting in police work. The police commissioner summarily rejected their proposals.

The Paris prefect of police, Jean Camecasse, was more receptive to the idea, so France took the lead in using fingerprinting as the gold standard for personal identification.

Few looked back to the days when amoebic dysentery had given Dr. Herschel the time to speculate about the intricacies of the whorls on people's fingers.

Stanley M. Aronson, M.D., is dean of medicine emeritus at Brown University

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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.

Have a GREAT week!