What does a match mean? A Framework for Understanding Forensic Comparisons

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2019-04-01
Authors
Mejia, Robin
Cuellar, Maria
Delger, Dana
Eddy, Bill
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Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence
The Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE) carries out research on the scientific foundations of forensic methods, develops novel statistical methods and transfers knowledge and technological innovations to the forensic science community. We collaborate with more than 80 researchers and across six universities to drive solutions to support our forensic community partners with accessible tools, open-source databases and educational opportunities.
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On 11 March 2004, terrorists in Madrid, Spain detonated bombs on several commuter trains. In total, 191 people were killed and 1,400 were injured. After the bombing, examiners from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) identified a latent fingerprint found on a bag containing detonators and explosives as coming from an Oregon lawyer named Brandon Mayfield. Mayfield was arrested and held as a material witness for two weeks, until the Spanish National Police determined that the print did not, in fact, come from Mayfield, but from another man living in Spain.

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The following article is published as Mejia, Robin, Maria Cuellar, Dana Delger, and Bill Eddy. "What does a match mean? A framework for understanding forensic comparisons." Significance 16, no. 2 (2019): 25-28. Posted with permission of CSAFE.

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Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2019
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