15 Mar 2012

Potential Advantages and Disadvantages of Banking Arrestee DNA




Advantages

    Major crimes often involve people who also have committed other offenses. Having DNA banked potentially could make it easier to identify suspects, just as fingerprint databases do.
    
Innocent people currently are incarcerated for crimes they did not commit; if DNA samples had been taken at the time of arrest, these individuals could have been proven innocent and thereby avoided incarceration..


    Banking arrestees' DNA instead of banking only that of convicted criminals could result in financial savings in investigation, prosecution, and incarceration.

Disadvantages

    Arrestees often are found innocent of crimes. The retention of innocent people's DNA raises significant ethical and social issues.
   
 If people’s DNA is in police databases, they might be identified as matches or partial matches to DNA found at crime scenes. This occurs even with innocent people, for instance, if an individual had been at a crime scene earlier or had a similar DNA profile to the actual criminal.


    Sensitive genetic information, such as family relationships and disease susceptibility, can be obtained from DNA samples. Police, forensic science services, and researchers using the database have access to people’s DNA without their consent. This can be seen as an intrusion of personal privacy and a violation of civil liberties.


    Studies of the United Kingdom’s criminal database, which retains the DNA samples of all suspects, show that ethnic minorities are over represented in the population of arrestees and are, therefore, overrepresented in the criminal DNA database. This raises the concern of an institutionalized ethnic bias in the criminal justice system.


    Even the most secure database has a chance of being compromised.



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