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Advocating Death Penalty Closure:  At Sentencing Law and Policy, Doug Berman has a post linking to Jody Lynee Madeira's recent research paper, "Why Rebottle the Genie? Capitalizing on Closure in Death Penalty Proceedings."  According to the abstract, Madeira's article supports the argument that the death penalty provides closure for victims' families and counters "scholarly opposition to utilizing criminal law to pursue therapeutic ends."  Madeira theorizes "closure as a communicative concept composed of two interdependent behaviors: intervention and reflexivity. While intervention is an interpersonal component that urges victims' families to take action to effect change and pursue accountability, reflexivity is an intrapersonal component that nudges them to contemplate and work through grief, emotion, and trauma after a loved one's murder."  Madeira is an Associate Professor of Law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law-Bloomington.  

Fingerprints on Trial: 
In today's Los Angeles Times, Jason Felch has an op-ed proclaiming "Solving crimes using fingerprints is an inexact science."  Felch's op-ed discusses the use of fingerprints in criminal trials from 1905 through present day.  Felch writes that although fingerprints were long considered "definitive proof of identity[,]" a "dearth of research into the reliability of fingerprinting" has led at least one Maryland Court to conclude fingerprint evidence is "a subjective, untested, unverifiable identification procedure that purports to be infallible."  According to Felch, this view was recently endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences, but that's not really what the Academy said.  The actual press release from the  Academy can be found here and the full report can be read on-line here (skim to the Table of Contents to link to specific pages). 

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