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National Institute of Justice Study Measures the Reliability of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
The Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice has published an article summarizing an NIJ-funded study that measures the ability of bloodstain pattern analysts to provide valid and consistent conclusions. Bloodstain patterns can be pivotal evidence, with the power to exculpate or exonerate defendants in high profile cases. Although admissible in court for more than 150 years, the validity of bloodstain pattern analysis has recently been questioned.
With funding from NIJ, researchers assessed the validity of bloodstain pattern analysis by measuring the accuracy of conclusions made by practicing analysts. In what is now the largest study of its kind, the researchers used a “black box” study design similar to previous work on fingerprint, handwriting and forensic footwear examination. Black box studies measure the overall outcome of complex processes, like those that rely mainly on human judgment. The researchers reported that the conclusions reached by study participants were often erroneous or contradicted those of other analysts, suggesting potentially serious consequences for casework, especially regarding the possibility of conflicting testimony in court.
The work described in this article was supported by NIJ funding awarded to Noblis, Inc and is based on the grantee report “Black Box Evaluation of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis Conclusions” by R. Austin Hicklin (Noblis), Kevin R. Winer (Kansas City Police Department Crime Laboratory), Paul E. Kish (Forensic Consultant), Connie L. Parks (Noblis), William Chapman (Noblis), Kensley Dunagan (Noblis), Nicole Richetelli (Noblis), Eric G. Epstein (Noblis), Madeline A. Ausdemore (Noblis), Thomas A. Busey (Indiana University).
Title: Study Assesses the Accuracy and Reproducibility of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
Author: National Institute of Justice
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About the Office of Justice Programs
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance, and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law.
More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.