By Rebecca Stefoff
Forensic technological know-how Investigated takes younger readers within this fast-growing box, exhibiting them how crime scene investigators and forensic experts assemble facts, clear up crimes, or even release blameless those who were mistakenly imprisoned.
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Extra resources for Crime Labs (Forensic Science Investigated)
There are three primary ways to collect trace evidence. A criminalist or analyst can pick the evidence up with forceps, or tweezers. This approach is ideal for handling small individual pieces of evidence. The second method is called a tape lift. The analyst presses strips of tape against the surface containing the evidence, then pulls them up. Hairs, dust particles, and other bits of trace evidence that have been lifted from the surface stick to the tape. The tape lift is a good way to retrieve trace evidence from surfaces such as glass and upholstery.
Another task is document recovery. Using combinations of lighting, chemicals, and photography through various filters, document experts may be able to restore the writing on a document that has faded with age or has been erased or burned. Finally, document experts can analyze the documents themselves, to determine what kind of ink, paper, or writing instrument was used to create them. For decades, typewriters were important in document analysis. Experts learned to tell whether a INSIDE THE CRIME LAB questioned document had been typed on a particular typewriter, given a sample of material known to have been typed on that machine.
Sometimes, however, the prosecution may turn to private laboratories—for example, the prosecution may want a private lab to retest the public lab’s results. If both a police department lab and a private lab agree, for example, that a bullet removed from the heart of a homicide victim came from a suspect’s gun, the case against that suspect is stronger than it would have been if just one lab had been used. On the other hand, the prosecution has no way of knowing whether the results found by a second, private lab will agree with the those of the public lab.