Monday, June 14, 2004

New unit investigates unsolved deaths?

A new police unit has been established to investigate more than 360 unsolved deaths in New South Wales, with many of the deaths dating back more than 30 years.

Nine investigators have been attached to the Cold Case Unit, which has been set up to take advantage of significant advances in crime fighting technology. Police Minister John Watkins says the officers will use DNA,[?], evidence, digital fingerprinting and laser ballistics in their investigations.

"The 360 cases, some may be more positive for this new technology than others," he said.

"I'm careful not to raise the expectations of grieving families too high.

"We will apply new eyes, new investigative techniques, new forensics to these cases."

Police Minister John Watkins has announced a cold case review squad that will 'use new technology, such as DNA,[?], to investigate unsolved crimes up to 30 years old.

The initiative seems particularly inappropriate given that DNA testing resources are already being inappropriately allocated, with the result that important current cases are not being properly investigated and innocent people - both convicts and remandees - languish in prison for want of the DNA evidence that would exonerate them. See for egample below.

DNA wait leaves rape victims in limbo

Showered with the hugs and kisses of her nine-year-old son, some days it is all Lee can do to make it beyond the front door. But as a rape victim, this is not the worst of her torment.

Since being assaulted while asleep in early December, the 29-year-old has been told she may yet have to wait a further seven months for the results of DNA tests that will allow detectives to proceed with her case.

Simply boosting DNA testing repeatedly over the past four years, without providing rational guidelines for its prioritisation and use is just a recipe for the sort of budget blowouts we have seen in the UK, the backlog blowouts we see in the US, a reduction in standards and reliability as more pressure is put on labs and more junior technicians are allocated heavier workloads and greater frustration from the public and investigators as the gap between rhetoric and achievable reality widens.

Canada is currently facing a similar crunch to NSW which some are blaming on TV programs like CSI, but which I think should be blamed squarely on politicians who are unable to act as leaders rather than cheer leaders.

Overwhelmed RCMP hires private lab to test DNA

OTTAWA - The RCMP's overworked forensic labs are contracting out some DNA testing to the private sector, raising concerns within the force about control over the important crime-fighting tool.

In the absence of rational public decisionmaking the field is left wide open for biotech PR consultants like Smith-Alling-Lane who will exploit increasing backlogs, delays and public outcries to secure more public money for their clients in the DNA testing industry while pushing for standards to be reduced and volumes increased to make more room for more shonks who will buy their clients' products.

DNA lag leaves thugs on loose
By Frank Walker The Sun-Herald 18-feb-2001

Police are frustrated at long delays for laboratories to do urgently needed DNA tests on people suspected of involvement in violent crime. Dubbo police were told they had to wait two months to get DNA tests done on evidence found at a crime scene.

They wanted to test cigarette butts left by a man who had broken into a home accompanied by a woman and a child aged about 10 and tied up and bashed the home owner before robbing the house and stealing the owner's car. The butts were in the ashtray when the stolen car was found two weeks later in Sydney.

Police believe DNA tests would identify the suspect.

[And whatever else was either placed in the ashtray or found in the ashtray along side the alleged cigarette butts?]

The victim of the home invasion, accountant Geoff Henderson, was furious at the delay. "I want these people arrested. The next victim could be killed," he said.

A police source said the five DNA analysts working at the laboratory had a huge backlog and they were having trouble attracting more scientists.

National Party MP Ian Armstrong said the Government was not honouring its promise to properly resource the new DNA testing system. "The Government promised DNA testing would be used as a crime stopping measure," he said.

"Clearly the resources are just not available for police who are trying to take these violent criminals off the street."

[And it doesn't matter who goes down as long as the government can blame anyone, that they say fits the DNA profile? It wouldn't matter if the thing was contaminated or placed at the crime scene by someone? It wouldn't matter if the wrong person was locked up and the real perpetrator was still committing violent crime?]

A police spokesman said there were priorities for testing. Murders and sexual assaults came first. "Police are seeking certain people as suspects in this case and DNA tests won't help find them," the spokesman said.

A spokesman for Police Minister Paul Whelan said the Government was committed to making sure the DNA tests worked efficiently and effectively.

[And the reason for that is that DNA profiling is all the government needs to blame a person for a crime, right or wrong? They can even find against a person on flawed circumstantial evidence together with an alleged DNA profile, and the person is found guilty because of the alleged lauded DNA technology that has also been previously found to be flawed and also planted at crime scenes.]

Since January 1 police have had the power to take DNA samples from suspects in serious crimes carrying penalties of more than five years' jail. Police are building up a major DNA criminal database. [?] A 16-member task force has started collecting DNA samples from 5,500 of NSW's most dangerous prison inmates, starting with those about to be released. Mr Whelan said the database could help solve some of the State's worst crimes.

[Profiling prisoners' or ex-prisoners is wrong because prisoners are easy targets? Profiling those who are alleged suspects of a crime is also wrong because they are also easy targets, because they've been accused.

Also that is the best way the government can lay blame for crimes on others. That gives police a profile sample to start with and once they pick up an item, like a cigarette butt which could be planted at a crime scene the evidence, thanks to television programs like CSI, then becomes, allegedly undisputable?

Even if it's wrong and even if they lock up the wrong person on flawed circumstantial evidence, for a crime they never committed.

The government has the false flag tool, right or wrong.

All it takes is a bit of engineering and a professional witness to declare the facts and finding match, in some numerical capacity.

That raisises serious problems for the community.

This can cause gross miscarriages of justice, and also leave the serious violent perpetrator out there, one the street, to strike again and again with impunity.]

[You see DNA can be placed at a crime scene and tampered with.]

DNA - A Shadow of Doubt

One case points to misinterpretation of evidence that helped put a man behind bars. The other shows just how easy it is to plant falsely incriminating DNA evidence. As our forensic techniques become ever more sensitive, so the possibility of abuse continues to grow.

Military lawyers await probe on DNA tampering

The Army's Criminal Investigation Command said nearly 500 forensic test results from all services dating back 10 years are under review after one of its examiners allegedly faked results. About 119 of those cases pertain to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder

As long as the the prisoners DNA wasn't planted at the crime scene. It is one thing to force prisoners to hand over their DNA and another thing to exploit it.

By Starsky and Hutch 14 June 04

Updated 2009: DNA Links:

Fresh swipe at DNA labs
Scientist Kris Bentley, whose departure yesterday follows that of forensic biologist Deanna Belzer after concerns about "inaccurate" DNA results and unvalidated equipment, issued a scathing resignation letter leaked to The Courier-Mail.

DNA leads 'CSI' cold-case squad to first arrest?
Frozen case? I don't really know what to say about them until they come up with their case. They say it involves DNA evidence but that's the only stuff we know.

Criminal's DNA filed under relative's name
The New South Wales Opposition is calling for an investigation into claims that police have entered DNA data for serious offenders under incorrect names.

DNA fingerprinting 'no longer foolproof'...
The genetic profiles held by police for criminal investigations are not sophisticated enough to prevent false identifications, according to the father of DNA fingerprinting.

PROFESSOR BARRY BOETTCHER: Now, there should be a law enacted within Queensland so that when cases come up like this they can be brought to attention and if an appropriate authority such as a judge of your Supreme Court considers that it merits further inquiry, an inquiry be ordered.

'Rape' officer clears his name
UK: A former policeman has been cleared of rape after protesting his innocence for 15 years. Judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh ruled that Brian Kelly, 47, had suffered a miscarriage of justice over crucial DNA evidence.

New unit investigates unsolved deaths?
A new police unit has been established to investigate more than 360 unsolved deaths in New South Wales, with many of the deaths dating back more than 30 years.

Prisoner's bid for review denied
Prisoner Roger Cheney has lost a Supreme Court action to have a judicial review of his 1993 convictions an 30-year jail sentence. Justice Shaw said he was concerned about the prisoner's claim that DNA evidence held by the police could prove his innocence. Although Cheney had requested the results of the DNA tests, he had been denied access to the forensic analysis.

QLD Prisoners DNA Bid THE curious case of Queensland's "cat lady" murder is set to test the state's legal authorities again, with the man convicted of the killing asking the Attorney-General to take the unprecedented step of releasing blood samples for DNA retesting.

Database clears up crimes?
NSW Police Minister John Watkins said at the launch of a Sydney conference of international forensic experts meeting to mark 100 years of fingerprinting in NSW. He said the collection of DNA from prisoners and suspects in NSW during the past two years had led to more than 5,400 matches on the forensic database.

A Question of Innocence
Katrina Bolton: The promise of DNA freeing the innocent as well as convicting the guilty has been repeated by politicians across Australia, usually while DNA laws are being expanded. The promise was made as a national DNA database, ‘Crimtrac’ was created, and it was made as NSW introduced legislation giving unprecedented powers to take DNA samples from prisoners, by force if necessary.

Weak Carr Government suspends Innocence Panel
It's a callous disregard for justice! The panel takes applications from convicted prisoners for DNA evidence to be analysed a move that may help in a future court appeal.

JUST BEAT IT! Govt lauds crime-solving technology?
The New South Wales Government says advances in crime solving technology are helping the progress of hundreds of police investigations.

DNA testing causes debate in murder case
The use of voluntary DNA testing in the investigation of a murder case in New South Wales has been applauded by victim support groups who are ill informed about the process said Justice Action's spokesperson Gregory Kable.

Abolition of double jeopardy law a political stunt: NSW Opp
Why draconian laws? What about the re-trial by media that goes along with it? Twice shy?

The NSW government has finally appointed somebody (Justice John Nader) to head up its Innocence Panel and has produced leaflets and forms for people convicted of serious crimes (eg murder) to apply for DNA testing if they believe it may help prove their innocence. You can get the info by phoning 1300 881 717 or writing to the panel at GPO Box 45 Sydney NSW 2001.

Is the Westminster System flawed?
Most people would say Lady Di got the boot and NSW has so much trouble getting the Innocence Panel moving. I said hey, what's going on!

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder Mass DNA testing of prisoners has led to the first NSW case of a person being charged with a previously unsolved murder as a result of a controversial gene-matching data bank. The Herald reported 25 Nov 02 "a DNA saliva swab led to the charging of a former prisoner with the bashing murder of a woman. Police had been unable to find any witnesses or suspects following the murder in Sydney's inner city two years ago. Detectives had admitted they faced a tough job finding the killer."

Prisoners can prove innocence for $20
Les Kennedy Daily Telegraph reported today that" Prisoners who believe that DNA will prove they were wrongly convicted will have the chance to prove their innocence for a mere $20 administration fee. The move comes 20 months after NSW inmates were asked to provide DNA for comparison with a databank of DNA from unsolved crime scenes for possible convictions.

DNA yours or mine?
Now they have isolated two genes that they say tells you if you're more likely to be depressed. What does that mean? It could mean that you should stay in jail because you are more likely than not to continue your offending behaviour according to a Department of Corrective Services Forensic Psychiatrist.

DNA = Do Not Assume - DNA Controversies!
The national DNA database of all known offenders proposed by Prime Minister Tony Blair could mean that innocent people will be accused of crimes they did not commit.

DNA Evidence of Bipartisanship
Last week the U.S. Congress passed the Justice for All Act, which includes provisions of the Innocence Protection Act. As of this posting, the legislation has not yet been signed by President Bush. Attached is an analysis of the legislation prepared by the Justice Project.

DNA - A Shadow of Doubt
One case points to misinterpretation of evidence that helped put a man behind bars. The other shows just how easy it is to plant falsely incriminating DNA evidence. As our forensic techniques become ever more sensitive, so the possibility of abuse continues to grow.

Here come de Judge - Time to Leave [266]
There have always been examples of rulings and interpretations that have supported the saying "The law is an ass". This is increasingly the case, because even the best intentioned judges are now facing an avalanche of new technologies and social change. But, it is no good making excuses for the judiciary and continuing to accept their strange interpretations. We must recognise that not only judges but the whole legal system will struggle more and more. In the end the whole system will become a farce. This is the way empires end.

2nd Renaissance -15 The Rabbits And The Wolves [180]
Historically, there have been periods when legal distinctions between animals and humans have been blurred. For instance, in medieval Europe, in the 14th and 15th centuries, numerous trials and executions of animals occurred. One source identifies 34 recorded instances of pigs having been tried and cruelly put to death. Besides pigs; rats, chickens, goats, and bees were similarly tried. Some of the pigs were fully dressed in human clothes at the time they were, inevitably, found guilty. In one case a vicar excommunicated a flock of sparrows that infested his church. All this happened despite the theological stance that animals had no soul, and no morals or conscience. They could not really be guilty of transgressing the Rule of Law.