Understanding Barriers to Whole-Body Donation to Forensic Anthropology Facilities: Implications for Criminal Investigations
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Criminal investigations of recovered human remains often must start with identification. If the remains are skeletonized, this is much more difficult, and forensic anthropologists must be called in. Forensic anthropologists rely on donated cadavers to conduct research that will enable better identification of human skeletal remains for law enforcement. Facilities like the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State (FACTS) have a disparity of the number of Hispanic remains in their collection, despite a large Hispanic population in Central Texas. Hispanics are murdered at a similar, sometimes higher, rate as whites in the United States, and thus it is important that we can properly identify those remains. Identification is also important for the border patrol in their examination of remains along the U.S.-Mexico border. To understand the under-representation at FACTS and other facilities, ten interviews were conducted with Hispanics in Central Texas to understand their knowledge of and willingness to donate to forensic anthropology facilities. The most common barrier that emerged from these interviews was a lack of knowledge about the facilities. Generational differences, cultural beliefs, and religious practices served as barriers as well. With the information gathered here, efforts can be made to increase donations and better serve law enforcement in identification of Hispanic remains.