What positive things could come from such a database?
As part of criminal justice database, DNA samples can be utilized as accurate and credible biological evidence in identifying criminals and exonerating persons who were mistakenly accused or convicted of a crime. During investigations, the DNA database that had been collected from the crime scene may be analyzed by performing a DNA profile against the DNA sample collected from the suspected criminal (Reiss & Straughan, 2001). The stored DNA profile database may be useful in cases where an investigation has been reopened.
Should everyone, criminal or not, be asked to contribute to this database?
There is absolutely no need for the criminal justice department to collect everyone’s DNA as part of the criminal justice database. This is because an influx of the DNA samples would lead to more errors being made during the DNA analysis process. Instead, I strongly believe that the investigation team should only focus on keeping the DNA database of the DNA samples that had been collected from the crime scene so that the investigators can only collect and analyze the DNA samples of the suspects by profiling them against the DNA databases.
How might the database be used to violate privacy?
The storage of DNA database might violate privacy as it can be misused to track a person’s family. Thus, the stored DNA database may be misused to carry out unauthorized bio-surveillance. DNA profile database can reveal information on whether a person has a genetic disorder, whether he/she is a carrier of a disorder, health conditions, and whether it proves paternity (Kelves & Hood, 2000).
It is said that DNA evidence can exclude a person, but it can never prove a person guilty. What does this mean?
This is because the DNA samples collected from a crime scene may have been contaminated with an innocent person’s DNA. In addition, the stored DNA database may not be complete, thereby creating a high probability for false matches during DNA profiling process. There may also be coincidental DNA matches between different people who share the same DNA profile (Reiss & Straughan, 2001).
Are there ever mistakes made in DNA fingerprinting? How reliable is it?
There is an array of mistakes that may be done during DNA fingerprinting. This includes Mislabeling of DNA samples, misinterpretation of DNA fingerprinting results, and contamination of the DNA samples. These mistakes may all have false results that might lead to an innocent person being wrongfully convicted (Kelves & Hood, 2000).
Kevles, D. J., & Hood, L. E. (2000). The code of codes: Scientific and social issues in the Human Genome Project. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Reiss, M. J., & Straughan, R. (2001). Improving nature?: The science and ethics of genetic engineering. Cambridge [England: Cambridge University Press.