Dismissed Case Shines a Dark Light on Quality of Chicago P.D. Forensics

rui-silvestre-703796-unsplash-copy-242x300Our criminal justice system was founded on the idea that it is better to let a man go free than to imprison him unjustly. For that reason, prosecutors are held to a very high standard of proof. In many cases, this proof is acquired using scientific means. However, sometimes these means are not so scientific and other times the methods of quality control are severely flawed.

In 2016, Judged Stuart Katz dismissed a complaint against a Chicago juvenile when fingerprint evidence was brought against him. The forensic officer involved in matching the prints was castigated in court after the Judge found a number of methodological flaws in the man’s work. The judge accused the Sergeant of being “oblivious” and “not caring about educating himself” in his own field or work. He went onto say that there appeared to be no audits or any method of verification and that they did not follow the basic procedures set forth by the FBI. The judge determined that the entire department needed to clean up its act or they would find it very difficult to enter forensic evidence into the record during future trials.

The FBI is Just as Bad

If you are under the impression that the FBI should be setting the standard for police forensics, think again. In 2015, the FBI admitted that there were “serious flaws” in their hair analysis comparisons and “overstated” evidence that favored prosecutors in numerous cases. This resulted in at least one wrongful execution. The federal prosecutor argued that the defendant’s hair was a match for one found at the crime scene, but DNA evidence proved that the hair came from two different people.

Today, the FBI is still admitting evidence using a facial recognition algorithm that scientists claim is severely flawed. They use this evidence not only to match faces to faces, but also to match hands, clothing, and anything else that they can find. In fact, the FBI has an entire laboratory that is devoted to using these algorithms to match faces to faces and hands to hands. There is only one problem. Scientists will not sign off on the credulity of this process. This ‘evidence’ can then be used to convict people of sex crimes, terrorism, drug charges, and murder.

Is Facial Recognition Software Racist?

Facial recognition software plots centroids using key markers on a person’s face. The centroids are then mapped to one another creating lines between them. The subsequent shape, so the story goes, is as good as a fingerprint, unique to each individual. One problem, however, is that the centroid mapping technology requires contrast in order to plot centroids. Those with darker skin tend to have less contrast in thus have a less distinctive shape. In other words, those with darker skin are in more peril of being mismatched with a potential terrorist than those with lighter skin. As if darker skin did not already put you at greater risk of being shot or convicted, dark-skinned Americans have a new problem to deal with — facial recognition software that cannot produce enough centroids.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

If your face is not producing enough centroids or shoddy forensics has you fearing for your future, you need an attorney who understands how forensics sometimes is not an exact science. All joking aside, people have lost their lives due to evidence fabricated by forensic analysts. David Freidberg Attorney at Law can help. Give our office a call at (312) 560-7100 or contact us online to set up a free consultation today.

(image courtesy of Rui Silvestre)