SEARCH DNA Forensics Report Released by Bureau of Justice Statistics

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The forensic potential of using DNA to verify identities and solve crimes was first noticed more than 20 years ago. DNA Forensics: Expanding Uses and Information Sharing, informs the broad justice community about the evolution of DNA identification and its expanding uses. The report, published on April 30, 2007:

  • Examines the history of DNA use by forensic investigators
  • Considers the economics of DNA use as it relates to public safety
  • Reviews privacy concerns relating to the release of an individual's genetic information
  • Explores issues associated with the coupling of criminal history information with DNA data
  • Recommends that mechanisms be put in place that would make for a more efficient justice system while effectively continuing to address privacy concerns
  • Includes a glossary to assist readers

Dramatic advances in DNA forensics will continue to propel this once-exotic science into more mainstream criminal justice applications, perhaps even allowing it to someday replace the fingerprint as the primary tool for verifying identities. The report assists readers to understand how these developments have occurred, and to monitor the progress of DNA forensics in a more informed capacity.

"The report traces some of the history of DNA forensics and speculates about future uses. It is written in a way that minimizes the science while explaining the impact of key developments," said Mr. Owen Greenspan, SEARCH Director of Law and Policy and co-author of the report. "We strive in the report to strike an appropriate balance between privacy concerns and public safety. We include recommendations that we believe are appropriate for consideration by state-level policy makers that focus on bridging DNA identifications and criminal history records."

DNA Forensics: Expanding Uses and Information Sharing (September 2006), by W. Mark Dale, Owen Greenspan, and Donald Orokos. This document is available online at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/dnaf.htm and at www.search.org

The report was prepared by SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, as a product of a project funded by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.