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Science News - June 27, 2013

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Posted: June 27, 2013   1:45 PM

Local DNA databases operate under their own rules, a new dye could improve the ability to detect bruises on rape victims, and a nationwide report suggests that lab accreditation is not a foolproof level of regulation. Here is this week’s forensic news:
New York City and other jurisdictions are creating unregulated DNA databases that operate by their own set of rules regarding whose DNA is collected and whether that person knows that their DNA is in the database. Local databases allow local law enforcement agencies to shirk federal regulations. Law enforcement agencies argue that state and federal DNA databases have time consuming processes that slow down investigations.
As the dye that can detect lacerations and abrasions resulting from a rape is difficult to detect on women of color, a University of Virginia researcher is attempting to develop a fluorescent dye perceptible on all skin types. The technique could allow more injuries to be documented and potentially result in more rape cases being prosecuted.
The Boston NPR news station released a report that suggests that although lab accreditation requires more oversight and regulation, accredited labs are not immune from large-scale problems. As an example, in a Texas crime lab that was accredited, the state’s high court suggested that approximately 700 convictions should be dismissed due to questionable testing.
The defense lawyer for a crime lab technician who was charged with evidence tampering for allegedly stealing cocaine from inventory was granted permission to visit the lab and understand its layout. The assistant attorney general opposed the decision as the crime lab is being shut down.

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