Forensic Evidence History Essay

The world of crime has been around for thousands of years, with no way or form to properly solve these crime, many innocent people were framed into being thought guilty, and in return getting punished. That all changed at the beginning of the 19th century with the introduction of forensic science. Forensic science was a new way to solve crimes with DNA evidence to get the correct criminal rightfully punished.

In this paper I will go over how forensic science evidence developed over time, how the advancement of DNA made things easier in the courtroom, and finally what the projected future is for forensic science and DNA evidence. There is one question that | want answered at the end of this paper, and that is how does forensic science contribute to criminal detection? Historical development of forensic science evidence Forensic science has been a major part of criminal cases in the United States since the 19th and 20th century, so it has been around for a while, but is still relatively new.

According to Donald Shelton who is the author of Forensic Science Evidence: Can the Law Keep up with Science at that time the courthouses would allow so called “experts” into the courtroom to give options about issues that had previously been left exclusively to the jury, mostly identification through fingerprints and details of death or injury through medical testimony. The main way to get someone identified as a suspect was a finger print test, but as time went on and people started using finger prints to frame people the courts started using the “who” question in testimonies.

According to Shelton “this was based on the experience and presumed expertise of witness in such areas as handwriting comparisons, microscopic hair comparison, blood comparison, and bite mark comparisons”(7). This was an effective way to get 100% certainty of who did the crime, it was very effective. Other scientific areas were able to testify to conclusions about where the materials came from in the “what” question.

Accoring Shelton this how they tied those materials to similar items in the defendant’s control. They used microscopic examination as the basis for testimony that scene for bullets and test bullets were fired from the same gun, or from other tools that were used to make marks that were left at the scene, or they can even use the lead from a bullet from the same scene to see if that bullet was from the same batch of bullets that is connected to the defendant.

Then there is the “how” question, according to Shelton this gives an opinion about things such as how a fire started based on pieces of residue that was never destroyed by the fire, or reconstruction of the details of how wounds are inflicted based on the observations made from bloodstain patterns at the scene. From this you can see how far forensic science has come from when it started in the 19th and 20th century, and how fast it has developed to be the most effective way to solve crimes and to get the quickest results in a case.

Now that the beginning of forensic science evidence has been discussed, we can now move to the most used form of forensic science evidence, that form has saved many people from being wrongly executed by death penalty. This is DNA. Advancement of DNA evidence The way we use DNA today did come from imagination, it came from hundreds, maybe thousands of experiments on animals and by humans to prove certain theories that DNA was effective use of evidence.

First let’s start with what DNA is and stands for, to get a general idea of what we are dealing with. DNA(deoxyribonucleic acid) is the molecular structure in all living things that contain genetic information, its is very durable and can be extracted from the smallest of remains from a crime scene. A geneticist by the name of Alec Jefferys who first described DNA profiling in 1985. According to Shelton he “discovered that certain regions of DNA contained repeated sequences next to each other and that the number of repeated equences, or variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) and thus created the ability to perform human identity tests”(63). This is relatively new to the crime detection world as well as the science world so it was the most complicated form of evidence to proof was consistent. How did they proof this? They proof this with test, whether is was tested on animals or controlled human experiments.

According to Christina Cattaneo author of Animal experimentation in forensic science: How far have we come? she states that of 404 articles that were reviewed 279 (69. %) concerned studies involving animals sacrificed exclusively for the sake of experimentation, the killing was frequently has painful methods such as blunt trauma, electrocution, mechanical asphyxia, and many more terrible methods. Even though many animal sacrifices were made for the advancement of forensic science they were not in vain, these experiments have help save many innocent human lives on death row because of DNA evidence. There are also experiments held to show to find DNA on clothes and whether if someone touches that clothing the DNA will come off on them.

Michelle Breathnach author of Probability of detection of DNA deposited by habitual wearer and/or the second individual who touched the garment states that “some research on trace DNA suggests the last user/toucher results as the major contributor to mixed DNA profiles. This has been observed on clothing, steering wheels, and wallets. ” This means that someone who touches whatever has DNA on it, majority of the time mixes the DNA that was there and you can’t get a reliable sample of DNA from that piece of evidence.

DNA evidence has come a long way from what Jefferys first introduced in 1985, it has become much improved, and has saved more innocent lives, and solved more cases than anyone would have thought, and we owe it to all the experiments and sacrifices. Future of criminal forensic science It’s hard to think what the future might hold for forensic science in criminal detection. It has already come so far from where it started two centuries ago. The way it has developed into the legal system to make cases and evidence in those cases, more efficient and effective, but with any system there is always something that meet the standards.

Shelton states that “it is clear that there is a sizable proportion of forensic identification evidence that is failing to meet evidentiary standards in U. S. courts”(214). Even though forensic evidence has been extremely useful and seem almost full proof, there is always room for something to get better and in this case the system of forensic evidence has to meet up with the standards of the U. S. courts better, making cases easier to solve and get a verdict. According to John Butler author of U. S. nitiatives to strengthen forensic science and international standards in forensic DNA, there have been efforts by the White House National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Forensic Science; who has a partnership with Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), these departments are “seeking to improve policies and practices of forensic science.

Efforts to fund research activities and aid technology transition and training in forensic science are also covered. This basically explains that there are plenty of people willing to help make the department of forensic science better because they know how important it is to the justice system. While there is a lot of controversy about DNA forensic evidence, it is still the best option in the courtroom. Shelton believes that “The best prospect for improving or elimination questionable forms of non-DNA forensic criminal evidence may lie in the courtroom, but probably not with trial or appellate judges”(215).

It may “lie in the courtroom” but it all comes down to what the judges and jury believe is correct and makes the most sense to punish the defendant. The NAS states “With the exception of nuclear DNA analysis, however, no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source”(217). Forensic DNA evidence has proven to be the now and future of crime detection and will continue to be the most effective and reliable method in forensic science.

There is no where that DNA forensic science can not go, that’s what the future really holds for forensic science…. endless possibilities. In summary, forensic science is the leading way of crime detection in the U. S. and the rest of the world, and the most effective and reliable form is DNA evidence. While forensic evidence has only been around a couple hundred years, it has made so many advancements in those short amount of years, and the scary thing is that we still haven’t uncovered everything about it.

There are still as many mysteries as there are facts. Theres the development of forensic science, where it started as only forensic “experts” were allowed in the courtroom during cases to give their professional opinion of the case findings and from that they would decide if the evidence was usable or not. That’s when they had the “who”. “what”, and “how” question, that’s how they got their answers. Then it goes to the advancement of DNA evidence, and how it became the most reliable source in a courtroom besides from an eyewitness.

There were hundreds and thousands of experiments done on humans and animals that have become essential to how we process different form of DNA or different form of forensic evidence. An example of one of these tests that was done on humans was there was a test where someone wore underwear and after they wore it for a certain amount of time they would have someone touch the pair; and from that they discovered that the person who touched it left the most DNA evidence, more than the person wearing it.

Therefore why in crime scenes there are more fingerprints on clothing from someone who touched it rather than from the person actually wearing it. This all leads to the future of DNA evidence and other forms of forensic evidence. While DNA evidence has some controversy to it, it has been proven that it is the most effective and reliable form of evidence in the forensic science world. At the beginning of this paper | had the question of how forensic science contributes to crime detection? I would say that has been answered.