Forensic DNA Profiling
Recent advancements in science and computer technology have allowed scientists and investigators to use genetics to aid in solving crime cases. Although there are many different types of methods used to analyze DNA, the general process is based upon the uniqueness of each individual’s DNA, much like a fingerprint. Due to this uniqueness, genetic evidence that matches a specific individual to a crime scene is often viewed as concrete and undeniable evidence in court. In trials where a defendant may be given a life or death sentence, is it reasonable to place so much faith in genetic forensic results? I believe that although DNA profiling is a great tool for identifying suspects and victims, at our current technological state, we should use it as supplemental evidence rather than assume it is 100% foolproof.
DNA is 99.9% identical throughout all human beings (Lander). So how is it possible that DNA is used as evidence in the courtroom? DNA gathering is less invasive than a blood test, as a simple cheek swab can be sufficient for analysis. The tiny fraction of DNA that is unique to individuals is what is used in forensic testing. In the early stages of DNA forensics, restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP) were used by digesting DNA with restriction enzymes and then analyzing the resulting fragment lengths which were unique to individuals (Davidson). One of the main techniques used nowadays is the combination of PCR and short tandem repeats. PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, is a method used to amplify sequences of DNA. By amplifying specific polymorphic regions of DNA, unique number of repeats at specific locations can be assigned to individuals (Human Genome Project). DNA analysis has become the most advanced method of identification, replacing fingerprints. Due to its accuracy, DNA profiling in forensics not only has the power to positively identify criminals, but also make sure an
Cited: 3. Lander, Eric S. “Use of DNA as Evidence.” Access Excellence. 1992. 11 April 2010.