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Development of Fingerprint Impressions on Plastic Bags Over Time and Under Different Storage Temperatures

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Identification Volume: 44 Issue: 3 Dated: (May-June 1994) Pages: 266-269
E W Moody
Date Published
4 pages
This research focused on determining if the method of storing plastic bags before examining the fingerprint evidence on them had any influence on the eventual results of fingerprint analysis in a forensic laboratory.
More than 90 percent of the evidence exhibits processed by the Drug Enforcement Administration's South Central Laboratory in Texas are plastic bags or some other form of plastic. Delays often occur in examining this evidence. The current study used 27 plastic bags bearing latent fingerprint impressions taken from the author's left hand in March 1989. Nine were stored at room temperature, nine in a manual defrost refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and nine in a manual defrost freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Individual bags were removed and analyzed at 4-month intervals through October 1991. Results revealed significant deterioration of fingerprints stored at room temperature, slower deterioration of those stored in the refrigerator, and no deterioration in those stored in the freezer. Findings strongly indicated the importance of proper handling and packaging of evidence to be processed for latent fingerprints and the need to store specimens in a freezer if an extended time period will elapse prior to their processing. 1 reference