FBI Checks Execution Cases for Fingerprint Errors


The FBI is checking the cases of all state and federal inmates scheduled for execution to see whether bureau fingerprint examiners made errors that led to death sentences, USA Today reports. The monthly reviews began 18 months ago, after FBI examiners mistakenly matched a print found near terrorist bombings in Madrid to a lawyer in Portland, Or., said Joseph DiZinno, the FBI’s deputy assistant director for forensic analysis. The lawyer, Muslim convert Brandon Mayfield, was held as a material witness for two weeks. The FBI has examined at least 92 death penalty cases and found 10 in which it had analyzed fingerprints, DiZinno said. No error has been found.

Nine inmates are scheduled for execution this month, says the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington, D.C., group that opposes capital punishment. There are more than 3,000 death-row inmates; it’s unclear how many of their cases involved fingerprint analysis. The FBI also reviewed analysts’ work in about 100 convictions for crimes in which fingerprints were matched through IAFIS, a system that compares prints of potential suspects to crime scene evidence.

Link: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-01-10-fingerprints-review_x.htm

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