Imagine that a convicted child molester is released from jail andthat he is now traveling around the country looking for work. One daythis criminal returns to his old ways and he attacks a young child whosedead body is found in a deserted field the following day. The only traceof evidence at the crime scene is a semen specimen on the boys clothes.
Now this specimen could be useful if the police tracked down, and arrestedthe suspect, and then took a blood sample of his that matched the crimescene specimen. But, since no other clues are found this criminal wasnever arrested and for the next couple years he repeated this act manymore times. It is a shame that innocent children had to die because ofthis sick man, and most people would agree criminals like this should bestopped at any cost. Now just think what would have happened had theirbeen a DNA data bank that contained this man To understand why a DNAdata bank is necessary it is important to know exactly what DNA is.
Firstly, there are cells which makes up all organisms and inside thesecells are chromosomes. Chromosomes, which are made up of DNA, contain allthe hereditary information that an individual has. Now this DNA(Deoxyribonucleic acid) which makes up these chromosomes simply containsthe blueprints of the organism. It is DNA which determines what, where,and when to make a certain protein, and it basically is the storage centerfor information in almost all creatures. This knowledge of DNA isimportant because now it is possible to show the correlation between DNAand forensic technology. There are many reasons why DNA is such a useful tool for lawenforcement.
One important feature of DNA, relates to the fact that allindividuals have unique DNA, is that each cell in an organism hasidentical DNA. Whether it is found in in skin cells, hair cells, semencells, or blood cells the DNA found in one cell is identical to the DNAfound in all other cells in the bodyAnother extremely crucialcharacteristic of DNA is that everyone has their own unique DNA. Sincehumans in general are basically alike in that we all have legs, arms,hearts brain it is obvious that most DNA is identical. The key though toidentifying individuals through DNA is not through the strands of DNA thathave a known function, rather it is the DNA that has no known function.
Inside these strands of DNA with no known function, called Junk DNA, aredifferent repetitive DNA patterns which are unique from person to person. This is why DNA can always, be traced back to one person (with theexception of identical twins). There are two tests for analyzing DNA for forensic use, RestrictionFragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP), and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). The RFLP test consists of taking a sample of body tissue which containsDNA. After locating the DNA thousands of different combinations of DNArepeats called Variable Number of Tandem Repeats (VNTR) are examined.
These VNTRThere are a great number of reasons to have a DNA databank, but first it is important to accurately describe the requirementsfor this DNA data bank. Only convicted criminals would be entered intothe bank. Also, only Junk DNA would be kept as data, DNA that containsno personal or hereditary information. One advantage to a data bank willbe the quick access to information.
Prosecutors are going to be able tomatch the DNA collected at a crime scene with DNA that has already beencollected in the bank and this will allow them to apply for a warrantfaster. Take the case of Jean Ann Broderick. In 1991 she was foundmurdered and raped in her Minnesota apartment. There were no witnesses orevidence that led to any one suspect.
The only lead at the crime scenewas a semen stain on the victim. Minnesota at this time was one of thefew states that had and used a DNA data bank of convicted criminals, sothe Minnesota authorities checked their sample DNA with the DNA data bankand found a match that linked the DNA with Martin Perez, a 37 year oldillegal alien. After Perez was identified by the DNA, he was alsoidentified by witnesses, who saw him at Jean Ann BroderickAnotheradvantage of having a DNA data bank is that it is much easier to identifyrepeat offenders. Most sexual offenders commit a series of crimes, sothe importance of a DNA data bank can obviously be seen. The DNAspecimen left at the crime scene can be used to identify a suspect beforeother similar crimes are convicted.
A situation like this occured in1994 in Manhattan, New York, when three rapes occured. Anthony Monagashad lived in Florida in the early 1980One more significant use of DNAwill be to eliminate suspects and avoid false arrests. AttorneyGeneral, Janet Reno may have put it best “DNA is a powerful tool forconvicting the guilty, but todayMany people argue against the ideaof a DNA data base. They claim that DNA carries the genetic blueprintsof people and that with the completion of the Human Genome Project DNAwill be able to reveal all the personal information about an individual. DNA can say who the carriers are for diseases, or the measurements of oneintelligence, and this is an invasion of privacy. These results can besold to insurance companies or other agencies that can hold an individualsgenetic information against their ownselves.
Now as mentioned beforeonlyJunk DNA, which contains information that has no known use, will be used. Next, the actual DNA sample does not have to be kept only the X-ray film,and testing strips which can all be kept on computers. The government inan effort to make sure all DNA data basing is up to standard designed theDNA Identification Act to govern both the analysis and reporting of DNAforensic results, as well as providing penalties for the disclosure of DNAinformation. Grants will be given out over the next five years toforensic laboratories that comply with governmental standards, participatein external proficency testing and limit access to DNA information.
Under this type of system DNA information is no more dangerous than actualfingerprints. Another argument that many people have about DNA is the claim thatDNA is unreliable. There is a high chance of getting either incorrectresults, or fudged results because of the small room for error and thetampering that can be done. Yes there is a chance of error but resultshave shown that DNA is 99% accurate. Nothing is perfect and a systemcannot be much more efficient than this.
Tampering with evidence is notunique to DNA; evidence of any sort can be tampered with. DNA does notdetermine guilt, it is just evidence and even if DNA does match it doesnot mean that this is a definite sentence of guilt. Take the O. J.
Simpsoncase. Massive DNA evidence was compiled that all pointed to O. J. , butsince there was suspicion of tampering by the L.
A. P. D. he was notconvicted of the crime. DNA evidence can be unreliable, but under thelegal system unreliable evidence probably wonBy weighing up thearguments for a DNA data bank it is clear that there should be a DNA databank for all convicted criminals.
Currently the existence of a DNA bankfor convicted criminals is crucial to the crime fighting business. Over30 thirty states have their own DNA databases and the FBI has a nationaldatabase named Combined DNA Index System(CODIS), and it includes the DNAdatabases of all states that currently have one. The advantages of a DNAdata base are overwhelming: The instant access to information can help inthe quick apprehension of a criminal, it is much easier to identify repeatoffenders in order to prevent future crimes, and the data base can alsoeffectively eliminate suspects and end false arrests. All of societygreatly benefits from a DNA database of convicted criminals. No oneabsolutely knows how effective a DNA data base will be against crime inthe future, but presently it fights crime like nothing else.
BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Javurek, Peter, “Canada2. Frank, Laura, “Fingerprints fromDNA not always on money” USA TODAY 7-15-943. Levy, Harlan, AND THE BLOOD CRIED OUT, Basic Books, 19964. Maharaj, Davan, “DNA Tests Becoming The Key out of Prison inOrange County” Los Angeles Times, 6-22-965.
DOJ RELEASES STUDY ON VALUE OF DNA TESTING TO ESTABLISHINNOCENCE; AWARDS $8. 75 MILL www. elibrary. com/getdoc.
cgi?id=5322482776. 6. Billings, Paul, DNA ON TRIAL, 1995Science