The use of DNA technology is growing in every country around the globe. DNA databases help to solve crimes, identify missing individuals, aid identification in mass disasters or past conflicts, assist with cold cases, and exonerate the innocent. The power of DNA can’t be overstated in the world of forensic science and crime scene investigation.
Within the past twenty years, there has been an improved understanding of how DNA systems and databases can be used more effectively. There is no doubt that CSI shows, of course incorrect at times and fictional, have actually interpreted how this “CSI effect” has impacted judges, lawyers, and juries to examine the weight of DNA evidence. This type of evidence has gone from being rarely used to being demanded in the criminal court system.
The technology for collecting and examining DNA evidence has improved drastically. It has been made possible to collect biological samples (blood, sweat, semen, etc.) left behind at a current crime scene or from the skeletal remains decades old. It’s amazing that today it’s possible to get results from trace or touch evidence with only several hundred cells of biological material for testing.
Interestingly, patterns from large-scale DNA testing of felons and other arrestees have been able to show that some criminals actually graduate in their criminal activities. A petty theft or burglary may eventually turn to more violent types of crimes. The power of having DNA databases can actually help to solve crimes, such as rape or homicide, from someone who was arrested for a traffic citation.
With every positive scientific advancement for the criminal justice system, there comes the down side that seems to hover in the shadows. DNA evidence is only as good as the testing, equipment, abilities of scientists, and proper protocols set from the police departments and crime labs. It’s imperative to make sure that these “proper” protocols and trained personnel continue to be of the highest quality and training as possible.
In the next five to ten years, countries with undeveloped forensic laboratories and systems or none at all will create these DNA databases. Today, the evolving new world of DNA will continue to grow around the world and will continue to bring together evidence, guilty parties, and solve crimes. As fast as the technology seems to be evolving, DNA testing will continue to become better understood and accepted more freely, and have a major impact on national and international justice.
Where do you think they should draw the line to collecting DNA evidence?
Do you think that everyone should have to give a DNA sample when they receive their driver’s license?
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