DNA Testing in Criminal Justice: Background, Current Law, Grants, and Issues [May 2, 2011] [open pdf - 473KB]
"Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is the fundamental building block for an individual's entire genetic makeup. DNA is a powerful tool for law enforcement investigations because each person's DNA is different from that of every other individual (except for identical twins). DNA can be extracted from a number of sources, such as hair, bone, teeth, saliva, and blood. As early as the 1980s, states began enacting laws that required collecting DNA samples from offenders convicted of certain sexual and other violent crimes. The samples were then analyzed and their profiles entered into state databases. Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory convened a working group of federal, state, and local forensic scientists to establish guidelines for the use of forensic DNA analysis in laboratories. The group proposed guidelines that are the basis of current national quality assurance standards, and it urged the creation of a national DNA database. [...] This report provides an overview of how DNA is used to investigate crimes and help protect the innocent.5 It also reviews current statutory law on collecting DNA samples, sharing DNA profiles generated from those samples, and providing access to post-conviction DNA testing. The report also includes a summary of grant programs authorized by Congress to assist state and local governments with reducing DNA backlogs, provide post-conviction DNA testing, and promote new technology in the field. It also reviews select issues Congress might consider should it legislate or conduct oversight in this area."
CRS Report for Congress, R41800