Discussion

Question

Detail how DNA is used in criminal investigations today. What is the current impact of DNA testing on the criminal justice system, and how has DNA revolutionized this system?
Include one case study of how DNA has helped convict a guilty person of a crime and identify those areas you have discussed above.

Answer

DNA Evidence

DNA, short for deoxyribonucleic acid, refers to the specific constituents of chromosomes that differentiate one living organism from another. DNA sampling can be used to identify a deceased person, to identify the common subject in different crime scenes, to match the profile obtained from a person previously charged with a crime to an unsolved crime, and to identify the real perpetrator in rape cases.

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For example, DNA testing has benefited the criminal justice system in terms of resources and investigation costs (Harvey, Taupin & Raymond, 2004). This development has been made possible through the provision of incriminating DNA evidence which results in a guilty plea by the defendant in most cases.  During criminal investigations, victims are usually asked to provide a list of possible suspects. The DNA evidence acquired from the crime scenes is then tested and matched to the list of suspects provided, which in turn helps to exclude the identified suspects from the crime or to pick out the actual perpetrator of the crime.

Viable DNA evidence has revolutionized the criminal justice system by ensuring the exoneration of people wrongfully convicted of murder or rape cases while at the same time reducing the risk of convicting the wrong people in the future. With the exception of identical twins and bone marrow transplant recipients whose DNA may be similar, a person’s DNA is unique, and as such, cannot resemble another person’s. Therefore, the use of DNA testing as a source of evidence makes capital offence verdicts credible and accurate. Harvey, Taupin and Raymond (2004) report that a decade ago, there was a case in which an elderly widow was raped by an intruder. On testing the seminal fluid found on the bedding, investigators found that the DNA components of the stain matched those of the suspect, leading to conviction.

References

Roberts, H., Taupin, J. & Raymond, T. (2004). The Role of DNA Profiling in Criminal Investigation. Web.

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