Monday, January 22, 2007
Fingerprint matches -- key to fighting international terrorism and keeping criminals off the street -- are no longer foolproof, warns University of California-Davis CrimProf Edward Imwinkelried.
CrimProf Imwinkelried, one of the nation's leading experts on scientific evidence, and co-author Mike Cherry, who designs identification systems, say the reliability of fingerprint identification has declined while the population of the world -- and its fingerprints -- has exploded.
"We can no longer naively assume the reliability of our current fingerprint standards," they write in "How We Can Improve the Reliability of Fingerprint Identification," an article recently published in Judicature. "Given the stakes -- not only justice in a particular case but national security itself -- we must do better."
Imwinkelried, the Edward Barrett Jr. Professor of Law at UC Davis, and Cherry, who is vice chair of the digital technology committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, urge reforms.
The current matching process identifies ridges within a fingerprint and categorizes it into one of three general patterns -- including loops, arches and whorls -- and their subpatterns, and maps predetermined shapes and contours. A fingerprint is said to match when the pattern, subpattern and some of the shapes and contours roughly correspond with each other.
Rest of Press Release. . . [Mark Godsey]