DNA Testing in Criminal Justice: Background, Current Law, Grants, and Issues [December 6, 2012]   [open pdf - 553KB]

"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). By analyzing selected DNA sequences (called loci), a crime laboratory can develop a profile to be used in identifying a suspect. DNA can be extracted from a number of sources, such as hair, bone, teeth, saliva, and blood. Because the human body contains so many copies of DNA, even a minuscule amount of bodily fluid or tissue can yield useful information. Obtaining a DNA sample is not necessarily invasive; it can be as simple as a swab of the inside of the mouth to obtain saliva. State and federal DNA databases have proved instrumental in solving crimes, reducing the risk of convicting the wrong person, and establishing the innocence of those wrongly convicted. […] This report provides an overview of how DNA is used to investigate crimes and help protect the innocent. 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."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R41800
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html
Media Type:
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