The Use of Dna Evidence

Topics: National DNA database, DNA, DNA profiling Pages: 6 (1923 words) Published: October 13, 2008
Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA as it is most commonly known, is a strand of molecules found within the cell nucleus of all living things. It is called a “genetic fingerprint” because each is dissimilar to the other and each person, apart from identical twins, has different DNA patterns. DNA testing has overthrown the way law enforcement agencies collect evidence in numerous criminal cases, especially rape and murder and consequently had a large impact on countless past cases. The prospect of a national DNA database has been profoundly criticized with complaints of incursion of privacy and stigma against those with terminal diseases. Moreover, there are several disadvantages to DNA testing, such as conflicts arising with crime laboratories, the costs of DNA testing, challenges of accuracy, and the possible misuse and mishandling of DNA. In this paper, a review of the conflicts and concerns of DNA testing will be discussed and analyzed as to why the Government should not mandate the use of DNA evidence in each felony case. Conflicts Arising with Crime Laboratories

Law enforcement has utilized the process of DNA testing to effectively fight crime, identify and apprehend criminals, and make the community safer (Wisconsin DOJ). In today’s world, the same tool that has been used by law enforcement in the United States has become overwhelmingly abused. Many crime laboratories have experienced an abundance of case loads which have resulted in unprocessed cases. These reports have been publicized by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to address a problem. The effected parties of a back log can be victims of sexual assaults as perpetrators who have a tendency to re-offend are still walking the streets. The back log can also cause law enforcement to follow-up on leads that would not normally be conducted if the DNA results were assessable. (Wisconsin DOJ) Press Release by the State of Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ)

The Madison, Wisconsin Crime Laboratory is one of the many state laboratories that have experienced a strain on manpower; budget, in regards to DNA testing. The Office of Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen released a report on February 12, 2007, on the issue of back logged criminal cases. The back logs were defined as any case that an analyst has not worked on (Wisconsin DOJ). In 1996, the crime laboratory received 704 samples to analyze but failed to examine 286 of those samples in the calendar year (Wisconsin DOJ). A dramatic increase through the years of samples received at the crime laboratory for analysis was experienced. In 2006, there were 2,226 samples received and 1,785 samples were not examined by the end of the calendar year (Wisconsin DOJ).

During the investigation by the Wisconsin DOJ it was found that the manpower consisted of 21 criminal analysts. Each analyst was estimated to have worked on four to five cases during a monthly period and approximately 55 cases per year (Wisconsin DOJ). These statistics per criminal analyst are remarkable but have no immediate resolve on the back log. Supply Expenses

One analyst will generate an expense of $3,555 per year for supplies to conduct their examinations (Wisconsin DOJ). In 2006 the total expense on supplies spent for 1,152 cases was $428,500 (Wisconsin DOJ). The state crime laboratory is expected to receive an appropriation of $7.7 million for each year until 2010, but it will not be enough to offset the costs already generated (Wisconsin DOJ). Concerns

The debate for using DNA evidence also raises concerns that not only deal with cost, but also mishandling of DNA, violation of human rights, and ex post facto clause. For example, the state of California has put into action the DNA sampling of all adult and juvenile felons, despite the fact that some are not violent offenders. In edition all 50 states are able to require felons, convicted of murder or sex crimes, to forfeit DNA samples with no questions asked. 35 states like California and...

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Schmalleger, F. (2002). Criminal Law Today: An introduction with capstone cases. (2nd edition). Uppper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
State of Wisconsin DOJ. (2007). Announces Release of DOJ Review of State Crime Lab Resources for DNA Analysis (February 12, 2007). Retrieved on February 28, 2007, from
Teichroeb, R. (2004). Rare look inside state crime labs. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved March 1, 2007, from
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Varsha. (2006). DNA Fingerprinting in the Criminal Justice System: An Overview (Vol. 25, pp.181-188). Mary Ann Leiber, Inc.
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