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The Future of Facial Composites and the Forensic Sketch Artist

This short, two-and-a-half minute video offers an interesting glimpse into the enduring use of sketch artists in modern-day criminal justice.

The role of the forensic sketch artist is waning, giving way to computer software programs and the proliferation of surveillance cameras everywhere we go. For many, however, the sketch artist continues to supply a valuable investigative tool. Surveillance videos, after all, can be grainy. They may shore up an identification once it’s made, but they can’t always make an identification in the first place. Computer programs, moreover, can’t substitute for a human touch when interviewing witnesses and prompting their recall, especially when they’re scared or otherwise traumatized. Critics, though, caution that facial composites can contribute to false arrests, wrongful convictions, and racial profiling. In the end, both sides may be right. Here’s the video.


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