The pros and cons of DNA profiling
The pros and cons of DNA profiling
Does DNA profiling in its current state offer foolproof identification? What needs to be in place for it to be error-free? Should all incarcerated criminals be forced to give samples? Should convicted juveniles? Should the general public be required to give a DNA sample?
The pros of DNA profiling are that it can be used to quickly eliminate a suspect, saving time in searches for perpetrators. And it can provide compelling evidence to support a conviction and, most importantly, reduce the chances of a wrongful conviction.
Another pro os DNA profiling is paternity testing, usually to determine fatherhood of a child when this is disputed. It may also be used in helping to identify whether objects have been handled by, or belonged to, a missing person. Also in rape cases, there is no need for a victim to testify about whether a sexual act took place. There’s no question, typically, about mistaken identity being the problem, because DNA from a semen sample can be used to link a suspect to that semen sample. In fact, it has been useful for excluding innocent people. The FBI says that, of many test results, that they could never exclude with standard blood markers, nearly a third of those people are exonerated immediately upon DNA testing. Many rapists, because of this, now plead guilty.
The cons of DNA profiling are the accuracy of DNA profiling in matching to people depends on the technique used and particularly the number of loci checked. While this is getting better so the chances of a false match are very small, the courts have not yet accepted it as absolute proof of identity.
If a particular exhibit is handled by a number of people the DNA profiling results indicate a mixture; so interpretation is not always straightforward.
Also how a person process’s DNA samples , if they do a messy job and the ink is smeared it would not be of use in court.
DNA in it’s current state doesn’t offer foolproof identification because, people that process it can make mistakes, it can become contaminated, controversy that has arisen is about how to interpret a match. What frequency should you put on it? How rare is a pattern? How odd is a match? And for this, the controversy is a technical one and a complex one, but it has to do with the fact that the frequency of the different DNA patterns of different genes vary across the population.
This is actually a blood group frequency distribution. Similar things are known for other types of DNA differences. And so there has been active controversy about exactly what weight we should put on samples. Are the odds being quoted one hundred-fold too high? Are they exactly right? Maybe they’re one thousand-fold too high. Scientists are arguing actively about this. calling for defined standards for laboratory work.
For new standards of statistical calculations most importantly to my mind, it called for a mandatory proficiency test – that the laboratories that are doing this work should be subjected regularly to blind proficiency testing, to insure that they did the work well on a regular basis. It is in some sense appalling that there are no mandatory standards for something as important as forensic testing. There are higher standards, indeed for the laboratory practices of someone who will diagnose strep throat than for the laboratory practice of someone who will create a DNA fingerprint that could be used to send someone to Death Row.
I feel that there will never be an error free DNA profiling system because of all the human error and debates out how the testing is done and how much constitutes a true dna match and things of that nature. Forensic investigators take many precautions to prevent mistakes, but human error can never be reduced to zero.
I feel that incarcerated criminals should have samples of DNa taken and stored because our whole criminal justice system is built on keeping contact with people who have had contact with criminal justice and just like your mug shot and fingerprints are kept on file so should your DNA if you are a convicted criminal. I also feel the same for convicted juveniles, if you commit a crime and are convicted you should have DNA samples taken , because who’s to say that as a child you did something wrong but as an adult you won’t commit crime again.
As far as the general public goes I am stuck in the middle on this, it would be great for everyone to be in a DNA database, as it would deter crime and solve crimes much faster, but on the downside, giving that kind of information to the government without knowing for sure what they might use it for, other than criminal cases, missing persons or things in that nature, would be an invasion of privacy, and also if the system databases are not secure enough, then people could get tremendous information about you just from your DNA, as in medically, and basically information that’s in your DNA is in your whole family history, sisters, brothers, mother, father, DNA can trace your family history way back to see who you are related to. I think it should be the publics choice whether or not to give samples of DNA.