In 2004, the National Institute of Justice created the social science research on forensic sciences (SSRFS) research program to explore the impact of forensic sciences on the criminal justice system and the administration of justice. Much of the early research from the SSRFS program focused on DNA processing and the use of DNA in investigations and prosecutions.
Sergeant Jason Moran of the Cook County (IL) Sheriff’s Office discusses the current situation of cold cases in the United States, why it’s important to establish cold case units, how current tools and technology can help solve cold cases, and what National Institute of Justice resources are available to assist in solving cold cases.
Sergeant Moran was a participant on an NIJ Saturday Session panel at IACP 2019.
Those working in the criminal justice system should always use research and evidence to inform their policies, practices, and work. However, leaders often need to make decisions based on limited information and under unpredictable or even volatile circumstances. Sometimes there simply isn’t research available yet to help inform decisions on emerging issues.
Experience has shown that cold case programs can solve a substantial number of violent crime cold cases, including homicides and sexual assaults. Advances in DNA technologies have substantially increased the successful DNA analysis of aged, degraded, limited, or otherwise compromised biological evidence. As a result, crime scene samples once thought to be unsuitable for testing may now yield DNA profiles. Additionally, samples that previously generated inconclusive DNA results may now be successfully analyzed.