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Posted: November 12th, 2022

Module 7 Discussion Posting

Module 7 Discussion Posting
Address each of the following questions and prompts:

Summarize one of the seven feature-comparison methods and the findings reported by PCAST (Chapters 5 and 7).
Cite and describe one peer-reviewed source that supports or refutes the findings made by PCAST that you discussed.
What actions listed in Chapter 6 of the report are relevant to the comparison method you chose to summarize?
Do you agree with the finding? Why or why not?

Your initial post should be 200 to 300 words so make it at 275 words. Title page is not necessary.

A feature-comparison method is a scientific tool used in forensics to decide whether an unidentified sample is a member of a particular category. PCAST reported seven feature-comparison methods, of which two are objective, and four are subjective. Objective methods can be examined for validity and reliability due to well-defined procedures. However, subjective methods require substantial expert human judgment, which is prone to error.
Latent fingerprint analysis, a subjective method first used in the 1800s, has been lauded as an infallible and feasible method despite there being no proven validity and reliability data. Examiners compare a fingerprint from an unknown subject with one or more known prints stored in a database to assess whether the two match. However, it is rare to find a well-defined latent print. Thus, examiners have to manually compare the latent print to the closest matching known print and provide a subjective conclusion. Afterward, an independent examiner confirms the comparison based on the first examiner’s conclusion.
The U.S. Department of Justice released a report in 2011 on the misidentification of the 2004 Madrid bomber (U.S. DoJ, 2011). The suspect, Brandon Mayfield, was wrongly identified using latent fingerprint analysis from the FBI database. The examiner caused the misidentification by using the known print to create similarities with the latent print, reverse reasoning. Upon identification, the second examiner verifying the prints agreed with the first examiner’s without carrying out a separate comparison hence confirmation bias.
PCAST recommends the development of objective methods for latent fingerprint analysis, execution of additional black-box studies to assist in improving reliability and the adoption of linear analysis, comparison, and evaluation process for examiners. Examiners should analyze a latent print extensively before comparing it with a known print.
In conclusion, PCAST provides an extensive and comprehensive. By pushing for more black-box studies and objective methods in this field, reliability and validity will help reduce human input and error altogether.
Executive Office of the President President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology “Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods.” (2016). Retrieved 28 November 2019, from
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General. “A Review of the FBI’s Progress in Responding to the Recommendations in the Office of the Inspector General Report on the Fingerprint Misidentification in the Brandon Mayfield Case.” (2011).

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