Few Illinois Nurses Trained to Treat Sex Assault Victims

Just 32 of the 200,000 registered nurses in Illinois are specially certified to work with the thousands of adult sexual assault patients who turn up in hospital emergency rooms in the state each year.

Just 32 of the nearly 200,000 registered nurses in Illinois are certified to work with adult sexual assault patients, reports the Chicago Tribune. Nearly 4,500 patients were seen in emergency rooms in the state for sexual abuse or rape in 2016. Despite health and government officials’ recommendations that sexual assault patients be treated by nurses trained to recognize trauma and collect evidence, many nurses receive no such training. The attorney general’s office said this month it is working with Illinois lawmakers to draft legislation that would require hospitals have a medical provider trained in sexual assault present within 90 minutes of a patient’s arrival. Hospitals would be required to implement this by 2023.

In a statement, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association said it supports forensic nurse training. But it said that deadline is not feasible because there are so many nurses to train in a specialty the group says few pursue or complete. Ann Spillane, the chief of staff for Attorney General Lisa Madigan, said hospitals refuse to prioritize staffing of trained professionals to treat victims. “In this midst of the #MeToo movement, it couldn’t be more clear that providing compassionate care to sexual assault survivors is not the hospitals’ priority,” she said. Three years ago, the attorney general tried to address the problem by hiring emergency room nurse Jaclyn Rodriguez to train her peers. She estimates 150 nurses in Illinois emergency rooms have completed the required 40 hours of training in sexual assault care and additional clinical work. But for national certification, nurses must pass the International Association of Forensic Nurses exam, and only 32 have completed that requirement.

from https://thecrimereport.org

E-Mail Leaves an Evidence Trail

If you’re going to commit an illegal act, it’s best not to discuss it in e-mail. It’s also best to Google tech instructions rather than asking someone else to do it: One new detail from the indictment, however, points to just how unsophisticated Manafort seems to have been. Here’s the relevant passage from the indictment. I’ve bolded the most important…

If you're going to commit an illegal act, it's best not to discuss it in e-mail. It's also best to Google tech instructions rather than asking someone else to do it:

One new detail from the indictment, however, points to just how unsophisticated Manafort seems to have been. Here's the relevant passage from the indictment. I've bolded the most important bits:

Manafort and Gates made numerous false and fraudulent representations to secure the loans. For example, Manafort provided the bank with doctored [profit and loss statements] for [Davis Manafort Inc.] for both 2015 and 2016, overstating its income by millions of dollars. The doctored 2015 DMI P&L submitted to Lender D was the same false statement previously submitted to Lender C, which overstated DMI's income by more than $4 million. The doctored 2016 DMI P&L was inflated by Manafort by more than $3.5 million. To create the false 2016 P&L, on or about October 21, 2016, Manafort emailed Gates a .pdf version of the real 2016 DMI P&L, which showed a loss of more than $600,000. Gates converted that .pdf into a "Word" document so that it could be edited, which Gates sent back to Manafort. Manafort altered that "Word" document by adding more than $3.5 million in income. He then sent this falsified P&L to Gates and asked that the "Word" document be converted back to a .pdf, which Gates did and returned to Manafort. Manafort then sent the falsified 2016 DMI P&L .pdf to Lender D.

So here's the essence of what went wrong for Manafort and Gates, according to Mueller's investigation: Manafort allegedly wanted to falsify his company's income, but he couldn't figure out how to edit the PDF. He therefore had Gates turn it into a Microsoft Word document for him, which led the two to bounce the documents back-and-forth over email. As attorney and blogger Susan Simpson notes on Twitter, Manafort's inability to complete a basic task on his own seems to have effectively "created an incriminating paper trail."

If there's a lesson here, it's that the Internet constantly generates data about what people are doing on it, and that data is all potential evidence. The FBI is 100% wrong that they're going dark; it's really the golden age of surveillance, and the FBI's panic is really just its own lack of technical sophistication.

from https://www.schneier.com/blog/

DOJ Announces New Policies on Forensic Science

The practices will “advance the Justice Department’s commitment to reliable science that helps us to find and report the truth,” says Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced new Department of Justice policies to advance forensic science at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences 70th Annual Scientific Meeting in Seattle, the department says. The new guidance implements quality assurance measures based on science-informed practices, enhances forensic capacity and efficiency, and increases coordination and collaboration between the department and state, local, and federal partners.

“Forensic science, used appropriately, will help us accomplish our mission,” Rosenstein said. “The policies that I am announcing today will advance the Justice Department’s commitment to reliable science that helps us to find and report the truth.”

DOJ released uniform language for testimony and reports for use by its forensic examiners to provide testimonial consistency and quality assurance and department-wide testimony monitoring practices to ensure testimonial consistency and accountability by  forensic examiners.

Rosenstein said that DOJ forensic laboratories that support criminal investigations and prosecutions will begin publicly posting current quality management system documents and summaries of internal validation studies online. DOJ also will “re-charter” its Council of Federal Forensic Laboratory Directors, which will begin meeting again this May.  All executive branch agencies with forensic laboratories and digital analysis entities are invited to join.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Challenge for Cities: What to Do With Analyzed Rape Kits?

Under a haphazard system, cities make their own policies about what to do with thousands of rape kits that come back from DNA analysis. Should every victim be notified, or might that cause unnecessary harm?

The Justice Department recommends that all rape kits associated with a reported crime be submitted for DNA analysis. Until last year, there were no national requirements or guidelines on what to do with them. Most states had no laws dictating which kits should be tested, meaning every police department could have its own rules about what evidence to test, keep or throw away. Some let individual detectives make those calls. What happened to a woman’s rape kit could depend not only on what state she was in, but which side of a county line she was on, or even who was on duty when she asked for help, the Washington Post reports. The results of this haphazard system have been  documented. In New York City, an estimated 17,000 kits went untested. In Houston, there were 6,000. In Detroit, Los Angeles and Memphis, there were more than 11,000 each. Over the past two decades, the “rape kit backlog” has been in the news so many times that now, slowly, the problem is being fixed.

Under pressure from activists and legislators, states and cities big and small are counting their kits and sending them to be tested. And then, they are beginning to quietly struggle with a far more complicated challenge: What happens once the kits come back? Should every victim whose name was on this shelf be notified that their kit had finally been tested? Or would reminding someone of their rape — out of the blue, years later, with no promise of a solution — cause them unnecessary harm? In Detroit, it was decided that, at least at first, victims would be notified only if their kits resulted in a “hit,” meaning the DNA found in the box matched a person in the Combined DNA Index System, a national database of offenders better known as CODIS. Houston tried a different model. A hotline was set up and publicized, so that any victim who wanted information about their old kit could ask for it.

from https://thecrimereport.org

NJ Death Investigation System Called a ‘Disgrace’

An 18-month NJ Advance Media investigation found serious failures at nearly every level of New Jersey’s patchwork system of medical examiner offices. The state’s past two top medical examiners resigned in protest.

New Jersey entire system for investigating deaths is a national disgrace, reports NJ.com. An 18-month NJ Advance Media investigation found serious failures at nearly every level of New Jersey’s patchwork system of medical examiner offices, the obscure agencies charged with one of the most fundamental tasks: figuring out how somebody died and why. The probe found families left to grieve without answers or closure, innocent people sent to jail and murders unsolved. Pathologists across the U.S. says the New Jersey system is so bad that slowly decomposing bodies sometimes clog storage rooms of morgues by the dozens, stacked two to a gurney, awaiting examination or burial for months.

New Jersey’s past two top medical examiners resigned in protest over a lack of money and power to fix things. Governors and lawmakers for nearly four decades have largely ignored the system’s shortcomings and the tragic consequences, and failed to demand answers. Experts estimate an effective system should be run in New Jersey for about $31.5 million a year, $3.50 per resident. Taxpayers now pony up about $26 million for a system marred by neglect and dysfunction. The newest state medical examiner, Andrew Falzon, has won praise for trying to right the ship since he was confirmed last year. The state has hired more pathologists and support staff, improved turnaround times for autopsies and brought in an outside monitor to study the system and recommend changes. Past studies and recommendations still collect dust, as do the many reform bills that have been introduced in the legislature since 2003, all of them going nowhere.

from https://thecrimereport.org

A Short History of the FBI Crime Laboratory

     Shortly after becoming the FBI’s fourth director in 1924, J. Edgar Hoover envisioned a national crime laboratory under the auspicies of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Hoover had been influenced by August Vollmer, the…

     Shortly after becoming the FBI's fourth director in 1924, J. Edgar Hoover envisioned a national crime laboratory under the auspicies of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Hoover had been influenced by August Vollmer, the innovative chief of the Berkeley, California Police Department and John H. Wigmore, author and professor at Northwestern University Law School.

     August Vollmer and Wigmore had pioneered the formation of the Scientific Crime Detection Lab formed in Chicago in the wake of the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre. These practitioner scholars believed that the developing fields within forensic science, coupled with highly trained criminal investigators, would someday bring victory over crime. Hoover had already made the image of the latent fingerprint the unofficial logo of the FBI. A FBI crime laboratory would advance Hoover's goal to create the ideal crime fighter--an highly educated, well-trained scientific crime detection professional.

     In April 1931, Hoover sent Special Agent Charles A. Appel, Jr. to Chicago to enroll in a short course sponsored by the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory that at the time was a private, fee-charging lab partially funded by the university. Most of the lab's cases consisted of forensic document examination, firearm identification (then called forensic ballistics), and research and development in the polygraph, a newly developing field of scientific lie detection. (In 1938 the Scientific Crime Detection Lab would be taken over by the Chicago Police Department.) Hoover also sent agent Appel to police departments in St. Louis (in 1906 the first police department to establish a fingerprint identification bureau), New Orleans, and Detroit, the only law enforcement agencies besides Berkeley and Los Angeles that operated crime labs.

     The FBI Technical Laboratory, with Charles Appel as its head, opened its doors on November 24, 1932 (in 1942 it was renamed the FBI Laboratory) in a nine-by-nine foot room in the Southern Railway Building at Thirteenth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. Special Agent Appel, its director and only employee, performed firearm identification work. Appel used the newly invented comparison microscope and a device designed for the examination of gun barrel interiors. To produce forensic exhibits of bullets, Appel utilized basic photographic equipment. The FBI Lab, as advertised by Hoover, provided evidence analysis and testimony for the bureau as well as for any local law enforcement agency that requested forensic analysis. Hoover also promised research and development in the various forensic science fields. Hoover's ambitious undertaking eventually made the FBI an indispensable and highly visible cog in the nation's crime fighting machine.

     By 1940, the laboratory, now located at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC, employed firearm identificaton experts, questioned document examiners, forensic chemists, physicists, metallurgists specializing in tool mark identification, forensic geologists (soil examinations), hair and fiber analysts, forensic serologists (blood and bodily fluids examinations), and latent fingerprint identification experts. The laboratory, employing over a hundred people, had gotten so large Hoover divided the lab into three sections: questioned documents; physics and chemistry; and latent fingerprint identification. At this time, only fifteen police departments and sixteen states operated crime labs. The FBI Lab continued to grow. By 1958, it employed two hundred scientific, clerical and administrative personnel.

     The FBI Laboratory, by the end of the 1980's, had grown into the busiest and most famous crime lab in the world. It had also become one of the top tourist attractions in Washington, DC. But even in its heyday, because of the quantity of forensic examinations and laboratory hiring criteria, there were problems with the quality of some of the work. The FBI Lab was the biggest and the most famous, but not the best. Overwhelmed by a staggering caseload, Hoover did not hire top-rate scientists. Moreover, there was not time for research and development. This led to some bad science and a problem with scientific objectivity.

     The FBI lab had to compete for personnel with a growing number of city, county, and state crime labs.  Because the FBI only hired lab employees who also met the criteria for the position of special agent, not all of the lab personnel had sufficient scientific backgrounds.  All FBI Lab personnel (except clerical employees) were first sent into the field to work as agents for three years. Many of these agents  had to be dragged kicking and screaming back to DC to work inside the lab. some of these agents had used their degrees in science to get into the FBI to become investigators, not bureau crime lab criminalists. Moreover, the close identification with law enforcement created by three years in the field worked against scientific objectivity. (The FBI has since changed its crime lab hiring criteria.)

     J. Edgar Hoover died in office in May 1972. By 1990, there was nothing left of his reputation and status as an American law enforcement pioneer. The mere mention of his name on a TV sitcom or a late night talk show brought instant laughter. Once a powerful and innovative man, Hoover, like so many other American historical figures--Charles Lindbergh for one--had been reduced by a tabloid culture and hack journalism into a character you might find in an underground comic book. The post-Hoover image of the FBI agent, while having lost some of its luster, did not go down with the Hoover ship. Notwithstanding his fall from grace, Hoover's most profound contribution to the art and science of criminal investigation, the FBI Crime Laboratory, is still considered the gold standard of forensic science in America.

    

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Phenotyping Uses DNA to Create Suspect Sketches

The DNA sketch technology is a relatively new tool that can generate leads in cold cases or narrow a suspect pool. For some ethicists and lawyers, it’s an untested practice that if used incorrectly could lead to racial profiling or ensnaring innocent people as suspects.

After her oldest daughter was killed last year, Michelle McDaniel and her family isolated themselves in their small Texas town out of fear that the unknown killer could be standing in line with them at the grocery store or passing them on the street. Last month, Brown County sheriff’s investigators sent McDaniel a sketch of the man they suspected in her daughter’s death, despite having no witnesses. The sketch was created using DNA found at the crime scene; a private lab used the sample to predict the shape of the killer’s face, his skin tone, eye color and hair color, the Associated Press reports. Within a week, the sheriff’s office had a suspect in custody.

For McDaniel, the DNA sketch technology known as phenotyping was an answered prayer. For police officers, it’s a relatively new tool that can generate leads in cold cases or narrow a suspect pool. For some ethicists and lawyers, it’s an untested practice that if used incorrectly could lead to racial profiling or ensnaring innocent people as suspects. Several private companies offer phenotyping services to law enforcement to create sketches of suspects or victims when decomposed remains are found. The process looks for markers inside of a DNA sample known to be linked to certain traits. Police in at least 22 states have released suspect sketches generated through phenotyping. It works like this: Companies have created a predictive formula using the DNA of volunteers who also took a physical traits survey or had their face scanned by recognition software. That model is used to search the DNA samples for specific markers and rate the likelihood that certain characteristics exist.

from https://thecrimereport.org

MA To Drop 6,000 Drug Cases Over Evidence Tampering

Prosecutors will dismiss more than 6,000 convictions tied to Sonja Farak, a former chemist who authorities say was high almost every day she worked at a state drug lab for eight years. It was the second time in less than a year that cases have been dropped because of misconduct by a chemist; more than 20,000 cases were tossed in April after another incident.

Massachusetts prosecutors will dismiss more than 6,000 convictions tied to a former chemist who authorities say was high almost every day she worked at a state drug lab for eight years, reports the Associated Press.The move comes months after the American Civil Liberties Union and the state’s public defender agency asked the state’s highest court to throw out the cases tainted by Sonja Farak, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to stealing drugs from the state crime lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and tampering with evidence. “Dismissal vindicates the rights of our clients to due process and fair prosecution and restores the integrity to the justice system by sending a clear message to prosecutors that no conviction will be allowed to stand in the face of such fraud,” said Randy Gioia of the Center for Public Counsel Services.

It is the second time in less than a year that prosecutors have been forced to throw out thousands of cases due to misconduct by drug lab chemists. More than 20,000 convictions were tossed in April after chemist Annie Dookhan was caught tampering with evidence and falsifying tests. The total number of Farak’s cases that will be dismissed could grow, because several prosecutors haven’t provided numbers to the Supreme Judicial Court. Most of them are low-level drug cases and officials say they’re not aware of anyone who’s still behind bars as a result of a tainted conviction.

from https://thecrimereport.org

“Forensic Testimony” by Dr. C. Michael Bowers

     Dr. C. Michael Bowers, the renowned forensic odontologist (dentist) known for his scientific integrity and independence, is the author of an important text called, Forensic Testimony: Science, Law and Expert Evidence. The book bring…

     Dr. C. Michael Bowers, the renowned forensic odontologist (dentist) known for his scientific integrity and independence, is the author of an important text called, Forensic Testimony: Science, Law and Expert Evidence. The book brings together the subjects of forensic science and the art of expert testimony.

     Dr. Bowers, an early skeptic of human bite mark analysis, discusses the problems of judicial acceptance of junk science into the courtroom. The author also addresses the dueling expert and other problems in forensic science.

     Forensic Testimony should be required reading for judges, trial attorneys, forensic scientists, and criminal justice students. Highly recommended. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Missing In America: A Nation of Missing and Lost Persons

     On May 29, 1971, Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson, high school juniors from Vermillion, South Dakota, were in a 1960 Studebaker Lark en route to a party held at a gravel pit near Elk Point, a town near the Iowa border thirty miles …

     On May 29, 1971, Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson, high school juniors from Vermillion, South Dakota, were in a 1960 Studebaker Lark en route to a party held at a gravel pit near Elk Point, a town near the Iowa border thirty miles east of their hometown. Along the way, the girls asked a car full of boys for directions to the party site. According to the boys, while leading the girls to the gravel pit, they looked in their rearview mirror and didn't see the Studebaker.

     The Vermillion High School Students did not arrive at the party, and did not return home. The Studebaker went missing as well. (The youths who gave Miller and Jackson directions were never suspects in their disappearance.) The missing persons investigation led nowhere, and died on the vine. Decades after they went missing, no one had a clue regarding what had happened to the Vermillion students. It seemed they had just vanished off the face of the earth.

     Early in 2007, Aloysius Black Crow, a South Dakota prison inmate, told the authorities that he had secretly audio-taped a fellow prisoner who had confessed to him that he had raped and murdered the Vermillion girls. David Lykken, the 54-year-old man Aloysius Black Crow said he'd taped, was a convicted rapist and kidnapper who was serving a 227-year prison sentence. In 2004, the police had found human bones, articles of female clothing, and a purse on Lykken's farm. (In 1971, Lykken would have been 18-years-old.)

     A Union County Grand Jury, based upon the jailhouse snitch's audio-tape, indicted Lykken on two counts of murder, kidnapping, and rape. As it turned out, the confession Aloysius Black Crow had taped was a fake. The charges against Lykken were dropped, and in 2008, the jailhouse informant pleaded guilty to perjury.

     On Tuesday, September 24, 2013, a fisherman on Brule Creek near Elk Point, spotted the wheels of a car sitting on its roof in the drought-shallowed creek. Several hours later, the authorities pulled a 1960 Studebaker Lark out of the water and mud. Inside the rusted vehicle, police officers discovered what appeared to be the skeletons of two people, remains presumed to be those of Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson.

     On April 15, 2014, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley told reporters that forensic scientists have confirmed the identities of the remains as being Miller and Jackson. Investigators and forensic experts determined that the vehicle's ignition and headlights had been on when the car went into the water. The car was also in the third gear. Given the absence of gunshot or knife wounds, and no signs of alcohol consumption, the deaths went into the books as accidental.

     As a missing persons case, the 42-year-old mystery was solved. While the case was officially closed, family members would never know the exact circumstances of the crash, or how quickly the girls had died.

     If the lakes, rivers, creeks, and ponds in the United States suddenly went dry, there wouldn't be enough forensic scientists to analyze all of the remains. America's waterways are grave sites for thousands of missing persons, people whose stories will never be told.

       

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/