Senin, 26 Juli 2010

Familial DNA Searches

DNA testing is a modern way to positively match DNA left at a crime scene to a suspect. But what if police have DNA from a crime scene but no suspect? Most states have DNA banks only of convicted felons already in prison, so a criminal with no prior record would almost certainly go undetected.

One method being used in California is to look for partial matches between DNA from a crime scene and the state’s database of DNA from convicted criminals. A partial match, while not implicating the criminal himself, would suggest that a close relative might have carried out the crime. California used the method this month to identify a person previously convicted on a weapons charge as “probably related” to a long-sought-after Los Angeles serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper. The person’s father eventually was arrested and charged with ten murders.

This is new ethical ground for us all. As a society we need to understand the costs vs. benefits of these types of searches. The benefits are obvious – another killer identified. But the costs will be freedom lost – the freedom, for example, not to be put under suspicion and investigated for a crime unless there is reason to suspect you of an offense. Suspicion of relatives based on partial DNA matches is likely to fall disproportionately on African Americans, since they already represent a disproportionate fraction of the prison population.

Because of these concerns, California wisely put some safeguards in place for familial DNA searches. Currently, such searches require that all other investigative leads have been exhausted, that the crime is murder or rape, and that the criminal is still committing crimes – i.e. is still a threat to society. Other states considering familial DNA searches should consider similar safeguards.

0 komentar:

Posting Komentar

Copyright 2010 Biology Blog Education. All rights reserved.
Themes by Ex Templates Blogger Templates l Home Recordings l Studio Rekaman