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Science Thursday - December 27, 2012

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Posted: December 27, 2012   3:45 PM

Legislation to require rape kit testing could be introduced in Colorado, a shortage of forensic scientists is causing a backlog of cases in Washington State, and a review of FBI cases involving hair comparisons may not catch errors in local cases. Here is the forensic news for this week:
In order to address the problems of untested rape kits in Colorado, state representative Frank McNutty plans to introduce legislation that requires all the kits to be analyzed. McNutty argues that not using evidence in rape kits, which is collected from victims in an often arduous process, is “a real problem.”
In the State of Washington, state crime labs have a shortage of forensic scientists that perform DNA testing, causing a backlog of around 700 cases. Even though over 400 cases had DNA hits in 2012, there are still five open positions for forensic scientists within the state system.
In the ongoing review of hair comparison cases done by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), legal experts suggest that countless local cases could be missed. Since the FBI gave training sessions to forensic analysts around the country, numerous other state and local prosecutors would have to consider completing a similar review to determine if analysts gave inaccurate testimony.
Pete Marone, the director of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, will retire at the end of February. Marone, who helped launch the state’s DNA databank program, will be replaced internally by Linda Jackson.

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