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About DNA Forensics


DNA technologies have radically reshaped the role of forensics in police work. Even small amounts of blood, saliva, or other biological materials left at a crime scene can now lead to the identification or elimination of a suspect. Genetic evidence has been used both to convict perpetrators and to exonerate people who were wrongfully convicted on less reliable evidence, including scores of people on death row.

DNA typing is typically quite accurate when used to tell whether an unknown sample matches another sample that has already been identified. This is not to say that this process is without problems; simple human error, sample contamination, and misinterpretations have been known to skew results.

The development of forensic DNA databases--in which hundreds of thousands of profiles are stored with the intention of catching recidivists--has given rise to new sets of problems such as miscalculations of the statistical probability that an unknown sample coincidentally matches a stored profile. In some cases, what are touted as rare "one-in-a-million" odds of being a coincidental match are actually significantly more likely once other relevant factors (such as database size) are taken into consideration. Such information has, on occasion, not been revealed to juries.

Nevertheless, the compilation of DNA databases has been increasing dramatically. In many jurisdictions, both in the US and abroad (especially in the UK), they now include people who may have been arrested for but never convicted of a crime. This raises privacy issues in addition to issues of racial discrimination since minorities have disproportionately higher contact with police and are therefore overrepresented in these databases.


Biopolitical News of 2014by Pete Shanks, Jessica Cussins & Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesDecember 18th, 2014This is everything important that happened in biopolitics in 2014 (or close to it).
Mandatory DNA Collection During Arrest is Unconstitutional, Court Saysby Maura DolanThe Los Angeles TimesDecember 3rd, 2014An appeals court decided unanimously that California’s practice of taking DNA from people arrested for felonies - though not necessarily convicted or even charged - violates the state constitution.
Bill to Have All Russians Fingerprinted and DNA Profiled Submitted to ParliamentRussia TodayNovember 19th, 2014MPs from the populist nationalist party LDPR have prepared and drafted a motion requiring universal fingerprinting and DNA profiling of all Russian citizens for reasons of security.
Discrimination Based on Genetics Could Soon be Illegal, and it’s Right on Timeby William Wolfe-WylieCanada.comNovember 18th, 2014As personalized genetic testing hits the mainstream, what companies do with that information is of growing concern.
New DNA Analysis Could Provide Complete Description of a Suspectby Theodore DeckerThe Columbus DispatchNovember 2nd, 2014The next generation of DNA forensics will reveal a level of detail far beyond what currently is used in criminal investigations. Presented with only a person’s DNA, “I can tell exactly what you look like,” one analyst said.
The FBI Wants Speedy DNA Analysis Added To Its Biometric Dragnetby Tim CushingTechDirtSeptember 30th, 2014It appears the FBI isn't satisfied with the wealth of biometric information it already has access to. It's grabbed everything external it can possibly get. Now, it's coming for what's inside you.
DNA Samples Stir Doubts but Police Detectives Find Them Invaluable by Natasha RobinsonThe AustralianSeptember 29th, 2014Genes on the thin blue line: despite doubts about aspects of DNA capture, police see it as invaluable.
Criminals Could Appeal After Home Office Admits Potentially Misleading DNA Evidence Presented to Juriesby Keith PerryThe Telegraph [UK]September 23rd, 2014A leading forensic expert warns that subjective interpretations of DNA evidence are potentially biased and unscientific.
FBI Plans Rapid DNA Dragnetby Aliya SternsteinNextgovSeptember 23rd, 2014The FBI is preparing to accelerate the collection of DNA profiles for the government's massive new biometric identification database.
Judge warns privacy of DNA at stake after rulingby Ian DuncanThe Baltimore SunAugust 30th, 2014As Maryland's highest court upheld a rape conviction based on DNA collected at a police station, a veteran judge issued a stark warning about the consequences of the ruling.
"We're All One of Troy's Babies": A Celebration of Troy Dusterby Victoria Massie, Biopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 21st, 2014On Friday, August 15th, I was one among a multitude of people finding a seat in Booth Auditorium at UC Berkeley Law School for the event “Celebrating Troy Duster.”
Troy Duster’s Garden of Plugged-In Scholarship, and How it Grewby Barry BergmanNewsCenterAugust 20th, 2014An overview of the CGS co-sponsored event to honor Troy Duster's landmark works on the racial implications of drug policies and genetic research, his role as adviser and friend, and his fierce activism.
Questions Raised Over DNA Evidence to Secure Murder Convictionsby Candice MarcusABCAugust 13th, 2014A High Court ruling that DNA evidence was not enough to convict a man of murder could have wider implications on DNA convictions across Australia.
In Search for Killer, DNA Sweep Exposes Intimate Family Secrets in Italyby Elisabetta PovoledoThe New York TimesJuly 26th, 2014In the absence of other evidence, investigators embarked on the country’s largest DNA dragnet, taking genetic samples from nearly 22,000 people.
Thousands of Scots Children Have Their DNA Stored on Police DatabaseSTVJuly 15th, 2014More than 35,000 DNA profiles of under-18s are stored on police computers. 251 of them from youngsters 13 and under, including two ten-year-olds.
Vermont High Court Decides Against State DNA Lawby Beth GarbitelliPortland Press HeraldJuly 12th, 2014Collection at arraignment violates a defendant’s right to privacy. “Your entire genome doesn’t become the property of the state merely because you’ve been charged with a crime,” a defense attorney said.
About That Creepy Biometric Database, FBI, We'd Like to Know a Bit Moreby J.D. TuccilleReasonJune 26th, 2014The FBI's facial recognition database, into which it wants to put 52 million of our mugs by the end of 2015, is only part of its larger Next Generation Identification program.
Forensic Science Isn’t Scienceby Mark Joseph SternSlateJune 11th, 2014Far from an infallible science, forensics is a decades-long experiment in which undertrained lab workers jettison the scientific method in favor of speedy results that fit prosecutors’ hunches.
CRG Led Forensic Genetics Policy Initiative Publishes Article in the Egyptian Journal of Forensic Scienceby JeegCouncil for Responsible GeneticsJune 9th, 2014Some safeguards are implemented at the national or regional level for DNA databases but there is an ongoing lack of global standards and a need for more societal engagement and debate.
How Does Bias Affect Forensics Experts?by Bettina ChangPacific StandardJune 5th, 2014Studies have shown that forensics experts (such as fingerprint and DNA analysts) can be swayed by a variety of factors, including cognitive bias, time pressure, and expectations.
The Genome's Big Data Problemby Joseph CoxMother BoardJune 4th, 2014Serious concerns around genetic data need to be handled before we all jump on the genome band wagon. How will the data be stored? Who will be able to access it? What security will be in place?
Genetics In Court Is a Very Messy Businessby Alexandra SifferlinTimeJune 4th, 2014Courts may soon face the challenge of determining whether genetics can be linked to criminal behavior.
DNA Bill Assaults our Liberties in R.I. by Steven Brown and Mary McElroyProvidence JournalMay 22nd, 2014The presumption of innocence lies at the heart of our system of criminal justice, but a bill now in the Rhode Island House of Representatives deeply undercuts that presumption.
Familial DNA is Debatable Procedureby Andy ThompsonPost-Crescent MediaMay 20th, 2014Wisconsin has joined a handful of states in allowing familial DNA testing — a powerful but debatable procedure — to identify suspects in murders and sexual assaults.
Genetic Information: The Voices From The Fault Linesby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 15th, 2014More people are choosing not to know what’s in their genome and more people are sharing the complexities and challenges of knowing. How can their choices and experiences inform policy?
Human Rights Body Warns Over Mass DNA Screeningby Elaine EdwardsThe Irish TimesApril 11th, 2014A Government proposal which would allow the taking of DNA samples for “mass screening” of certain “classes” of individuals should be prohibited, Ireland's national human rights watchdog has said.
It's a Fair Cop: Police Academy Uses DNA Testing on Students by Julie PowerThe Sydney Morning HeraldApril 3rd, 2014For the first time, the New South Wales Police Force has used DNA testing to screen its newest crop of student police against its crime database.
Update on Controversial Police DNA Collection in the Statesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 3rd, 2014In California, the Court of Appeals confirmed that police may take DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony, at least for now; many other states, but not all, do the same.
Discriminatory “DNA Sweeps”by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMarch 31st, 2014A DNA sweep of “all black and brown migrant workers” at farms in Canada has led to a complaint against the Ontario Provincial Police department alleging misconduct and racial profiling.
Mugshots Built From DNA Databy Sara ReardonNatureMarch 20th, 2014Researchers have developed a computer program that can create a crude three-dimensional model of a face from a DNA sample.
Appeals Court OKs California DNA Swabs of Felony ArresteesAssociated PressMarch 20th, 2014A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld California's law requiring people arrested for felonies to submit samples of their DNA to police.
OPP Faces Scrutiny Over DNA Testing Sweep that Brought Racial-Profiling Complaintby Tim AlamenciakThe StarMarch 17th, 2014Ontario’s independent police watchdog says seeking DNA from 100 farm workers whose sole similarity was skin colour raises "the spectre of racial profiling."
Amanda Knox and DNA Contaminationby Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesFebruary 27th, 2014The retrial and recent conviction of former American exchange student Amanda Knox has rekindled the obsession that many have with this case, and raises questions about the use of trace DNA in convictions.
DNA Collection Aids Arrests — But What About Privacy?by Noreen MoustafaAljazeera AmericaFebruary 21st, 2014Privacy advocates warn that warrantless searches of a person’s DNA, especially for misdemeanor arrests, is a slippery slope.
Why we Should Opt Out of the Government's New Patient Databaseby Edward HockingsThe GuardianJanuary 31st, 2014Medical records in England and Wales will soon be linked to whole-sequenced genomes. Choosing to "opt out" is also taking a stand on what kind of society we want in the future.
Kercher Trial: How Does DNA Contamination Occur?by Melissa HogenboomBBCJanuary 30th, 2014Potential for the contamination of forensic DNA evidence has been highlighted by the Meredith Kercher murder trial. But just how much of a problem is it and what lessons should be drawn?
A genetic “Minority Report”: How corporate DNA testing could put us at riskby Benjamin WinterhalterSalonJanuary 26th, 201423andMe's FDA problems are just the beginning - the company's DNA tests open up a wealth of privacy concerns.
F.B.I. Audit of Database That Indexes DNA Finds Errors in Profilesby Joseph GoldsteinNew York TimesJanuary 24th, 2014The FBI has identified nearly 170 DNA profiles that probably contain errors, and New York authorities have turned up mistakes in their state's DNA database.
Problem with DNA robot led to Denver police DNA mix-upby Sadie GurmanDenver PostJanuary 10th, 2014A malfunction in a DNA processing machine led to the scrambling of samples from 11 Denver police burglary cases, and it took more than two years for the department to discover the errors.
DNA evidence in Grim Sleeper case was taken legally, judge rulesby Paresh DaveLos Angeles TimesJanuary 7th, 2014A judge ruled that it was lawful for DNA evidence to be obtained from a pizza slice by a police officer posing as a busboy.
Biopolitical News of the Year 2013by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 19th, 2013For better and worse, 2013 has been a year in which several related issues familiar to those who follow human biotechnology moved into the wider sphere of public discussion.
Going Too Far on DNA Searches by The Times editorial boardThe Los Angeles TimesDecember 16th, 2013A ballot measure approved by California voters in 2004 allows police to collect DNA from anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony - before being charged or convicted.
The Case for a New Biopoliticsby Marcy DarnovskyYouTubeDecember 11th, 2013A talk at UC Berkeley Extension for Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvouz (LASERs), a national program of evening gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversation with an audience.
Court to Consider California's DNA Collection Lawby Paul EliasAssociated PressDecember 9th, 2013California's Attorney General and the Obama administration are urging a federal appeals court to uphold California's mandatory collection of DNA samples from every arrestee.
Report Details the Extent of a Crime Lab Technician’s Errors in Handling Evidenceby Joseph GoldsteinThe New York TimesDecember 5th, 2013Details emerge of a troubling pattern of mistakes at the city’s premier crime lab, also considered among the best in the country.
24,000-Year-Old Body Shows Kinship to Europeans and American Indiansby Nicholas WadeThe New York TimesNovember 20th, 2013The genome of a young boy buried in eastern Siberia some 24,000 years ago has turned out to hold two surprises: his DNA matches that of Western Europeans and also a large proportion of the DNA of living Native Americans.
Belgian Justice Official Demands Universal Police DNA Databaseby Bruno WaterfieldTelegraphNovember 17th, 2013A senior justice official wants DNA samples "from every baby" and "everyone that enters the country." The privacy commissioner said the proposal is reminiscent of dystopian novels about totalitarianism.
The Odds of Innocenceby Coralie Colmez & Leila SchnepsNautilusNovember 3rd, 2013Juries in criminal trials are often encouraged to think of DNA profiling as an exact science. The statistics, however, tell a different story.
1.7m DNA Profiles Cut From DatabasePress AssociationOctober 24th, 2013As part of the UK's commitment to slim down the amount of information held by the state, millions of DNA profiles and fingerprint records from innocent people have been deleted.
Feds Looks at Plan to Collect DNA from Suspects upon Arrest by Kim MackraelThe Globe and MailOctober 2nd, 2013Canada is considering a move to collect DNA samples from suspects upon arrest for certain crimes, raising concerns for criminal defence lawyers and civil-rights advocates.
More DNA Samples, More Debateby Erica E. PhillipsThe Wall Street JournalSeptember 23rd, 2013In Orange County, California, officials are taking DNA samples from people charged with minor offenses such as shoplifting and drug possession, in exchange for agreeing to dismiss the charges or as part of plea deals.
Welsh Police Take DNA Samples from more than 5,500 Children by James McCarthyWales OnlineSeptember 22nd, 2013A 12-month-old baby is among the thousands who were swabbed by Wales’ four forces as part of their investigations since 2010.
Maryland v. King: Three Concerns about Policing and Genetic Informationby Elizabeth E. JohGenomics Law ReportSeptember 19th, 2013The decision in Maryland v. King affirmed that DNA databanking in the criminal justice system is here to stay, but the majority opinion raises at least three potentially troubling concerns about policing and genetic privacy.
After Disasters, DNA Science Is Helpful, But Often Too Priceyby Christopher JoyceNPRSeptember 13th, 2013Forensic scientists who use DNA for identifying the unnamed casualties of natural disasters and war say the technology isn't always available where it's most needed, like in poor countries, or in war zones like Syria.
David Langwallner: DNA Database is Welcome but it Will Need Safeguardsby David LangwallnerIndependent.ieSeptember 9th, 2013The Irish Innocence Project welcomes the new Irish DNA database bill, but the retention of DNA from non-convicted persons raises genuine concern as to the length of time such material can be retained.
More Concerns Over Familial DNA Searchingby Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesAugust 28th, 2013A recent paper by Rori Rohlfs et. al., and two accompanying videos, suggest that real concerns still remain with familial searching in California's DNA databases.
Study Probes DNA Search Method that Led to 'Grim Sleeper' Suspectby Eryn BrownLos Angeles TimesAugust 15th, 2013DNA-based familial searches may mistakenly identify individuals in a forensic database as siblings or parents of an unknown perpetrator, when in fact they are distant relatives.
Elementary, My Dear Fluffy: Cat DNA Solves Another Homicideby Alan BoyleNBC NewsAugust 14th, 2013DNA from cat hairs has helped crack a homicide case, demonstrating again the power of genetic pet databases to solve crimes.
The Fallibility of DNAby Michael RisherThe New York TimesJuly 31st, 2013The myth of DNA infallibility has another dimension: when the government warehouses DNA samples on a large scale, we increase the chances that innocent citizens might be arrested and jailed.
UK Forensic Science Slammed by Inquiryby Daniel CresseyNatureJuly 25th, 2013UK government failures over forensic science are leading to fragmentation, research gaps and possibly even miscarriages of justice, according to a parliamentary inquiry on the subject.
High-Tech, High-Risk Forensicsby Osagie K. ObasogieThe New York TimesJuly 24th, 2013For far too long, we have allowed the myth of DNA infallibility to chip away at our skepticism of government’s prosecutorial power, undoubtedly leading to untold injustices.
Rising Use of DNA to Nab Low-Level Criminalsby Ben FinleyInquirerJuly 20th, 2013The use of genetic material to catch low-level criminals, mostly for property crimes, is growing nationwide.
FBI Announces Review of 2,000 Cases Featuring Hair Samplesby Michael DoyleMcClatchy Washington BureauJuly 18th, 2013The FBI will review thousands of old cases to see whether analysts exaggerated the significance of their hair analyses or reported them inaccurately.
Is Your DNA in a Police Database?by Jill LawlessAssociated PressJuly 12th, 2013Countries around the world are collecting genetic material from millions of citizens in the name of fighting crime and terrorism — and, according to critics, heading into uncharted ethical terrain.
Expansion Of The Genetic Surveillance State: Taking The Blood Of Babies Born To Mississippi Teensby Kashmir HillForbesJuly 2nd, 2013A new law requires Mississippi hospitals to store the blood of babies born to mothers 16 and younger - "a very invasive law to a woman who is already in a vulnerable situation."
Supreme Court Backs DNA Collection in Arrests[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Michael FitzhughThe Burrill ReportJune 28th, 2013The ruling opens a door for law enforcement, but raises privacy and social justice concerns.
From Suspects to the Spitterati: A collision of power, profit, and privacyby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJune 27th, 2013DNA collection is increasingly ubiquitous, and the push for access to genetic information is gaining momentum. What questions should we be considering?
How Innocent Man's DNA Was Found at Killing Sceneby Henry K. LeeSan Francisco ChronicleJune 26th, 2013An innocent man was charged with murder and spent five months in jail, despite having what prosecutors acknowledged was an airtight alibi.
Police Agencies Are Assembling Records of DNAby Joseph GoldsteinThe New York TimesJune 12th, 2013A growing number of local law enforcement agencies across the country have begun amassing their own DNA databases of potential suspects, some collected with the donors’ knowledge, and some without it.
Should Police Use DNA to Investigate a Suspect’s Family Members?by Nanibaa’ A. Garrison, Rori V. Rohlfs, and Stephanie M. Fullerton, Biopolitical Times guest contributorsJune 11th, 2013A DNA-based technique called familial searching can help police solve serious crimes. It can also be abused in ways that expose innocent people to unwarranted police surveillance.
Welcome to the “Genetic Panopticon”by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJune 5th, 2013In a forceful blow to the Fourth Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that police can collect DNA from people who have been arrested – but who have not been convicted, and may never be.
California DNA Law is Broader Than Program Upheld by Supreme Courtby Maura DolanThe Los Angeles TimesJune 3rd, 2013The Supreme Court's decision allowing authorities to take DNA from people when they are arrested may not mean that California's DNA collection program will survive court challenges.
They’re Coming for Your DNAby Emily BazelonSlateJune 3rd, 2013The Supreme Court just made it much easier for the government to collect genetic information.
Justices Allow DNA Collection After an Arrestby Adam LiptakThe New York TimesJune 3rd, 2013The Supreme Court ruled that the police may take DNA samples from people arrested in connection with serious crimes, prior to conviction.
UK Building DNA Database in the NHS 'By Stealth'by Helen WallacePublic Service EuropeMay 23rd, 2013The plan involves sequencing the DNA of everyone in England and adding this information as an attachment to each person's medical file.
California Bill Would Prevent Genetic-Testing Firms from Using Surreptitiously Obtained DNAby Jessica ShugartMercury NewsMay 23rd, 2013Under current California law, genetic testing companies can reveal your most intimate biological secrets to anybody, without your knowledge or permission. A new bill may change that.
Branstad Signs Bill Widening DNA Sampling to Misdemeanor CasesAssociated PressMay 16th, 2013People convicted of certain aggravated misdemeanors in Iowa now will be required to submit DNA samples to the federal DNA database.
The DNA in Your Garbage: Up For Grabsby Kevin HartnettThe Boston GlobeMay 12th, 2013Drop a hair? Anyone can legally sequence your genetic material—and privacy experts want to close that gap.
Brain Scans Predict Which Criminals are More Likely to Reoffendby Regina NuzzoNatureMarch 25th, 2013Neuroscientists say they have found a way to predict whether convicted felons are likely to commit crimes again from looking at their brain scans.
Privacy and Progress Inspires California Genetic Information Privacy Billby Nicolle StrandPresidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical IssuesMarch 12th, 2013A California State Senator introduced a bill declaring the intent of the legislature to enact new, comprehensive genetic privacy protections in the state.
What Is a Gene And How Does it Apply to the Law? The Supreme Court Still Doesn't Know.by Brian ResnickNational JournalMarch 2nd, 2013DNA was discovered 60 years ago this week, and since then it's been muddling up the legal system.
Justices Wrestle Over Allowing DNA Sampling at Time of Arrestby Adam LiptakThe New York TimesFebruary 26th, 2013The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that one justice said is "perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard in decades.”
DNA and the Constitution[Editorial]The New York TimesFebruary 24th, 2013The substantial harm to innocent people that could result from the misuse of DNA greatly outweighs the benefits. And the safeguard against such harm is the Fourth Amendment, whose fundamental protections the Maryland court upheld. The Supreme Court should do likewise.
Gene-ism and the Trout in the Milkby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 19th, 2013The remains of King Richard III were not really identified by DNA, but that was what the headlines said.
Sale of Personal Gene Data Condemned as 'Unethical and Dangerous'by Jamie DowardThe Guardian February 16th, 2013Critics say companies could acquire personal information that would identify National Health Service patients without their consent.
Too Much InformationSupreme Court 2013: Why collecting DNA from people who are arrested won’t help solve more crimes.by Brandon L. Garrett and Erin MurphySlateFebruary 12th, 2013Research shows that police solve more crimes not by taking DNA from suspects who have never been convicted, but by collecting more evidence at crime scenes.
Will Pre-Conviction DNA Collection Become the National Norm?by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesFebruary 7th, 2013The United States Supreme Court will hear a case later this month that will determine the legality of collecting DNA from people who are arrested for but not convicted of any crime.
Supreme Court to Hear Fight Over Taking DNA From Arrested Peopleby David SavageLos Angeles TimesFebruary 2nd, 2013The Supreme Court will hear a privacy rights challenge to the police practice of taking DNA from people arrested but not convicted.
Proposal to Collect DNA From Immigrants Too Orwellian: Opinion by Opinion staffDaily NewsJanuary 31st, 2013Undocumented immigrants should not be required to submit DNA samples as a condition of staying in the United States.
State Lawmaker Wants To Take All Misdemeanor Offenders’ DNACBS DenverJanuary 30th, 2013Colorado already collects DNA from the worst felons. Now there’s a proposal to follow in New York's footsteps and add the DNA of people convicted of misdemeanors.
3 Years After Inception, a DNA Technique Yields Little Success for the Policeby Joseph Goldstein and J. David GoodmanThe New York TimesJanuary 27th, 2013The process of turning crime-scene DNA into a family tree of possible leads has been quietly undertaken in more than two dozen cases in New York City since 2009, but there have as yet been no cases solved due to a lead generated by a "family search."
Gene-ism and Mass Murderby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesJanuary 22nd, 2013Proposals to analyze the genes of a mass murderer have rightly drawn criticism from experts, including the editors of Nature.
Privacy Fear for DNA Dragnetby Tony WallStuff (New Zealand)January 20th, 2013A district court judge who is a world expert in forensic DNA has called for a public debate on the use of familial DNA testing, saying it raises serious privacy issues and has the potential to subject entire families to life-long genetic surveillance.
New York Examines Over 800 Rape Cases for Possible Mishandling of Evidenceby Joseph GoldsteinThe New York TimesJanuary 10th, 2013The review underscores that DNA evidence, widely perceived as providing nearly irrefutable proof of guilt or innocence, is subject to human error.
German Federal Court Bans Mass Genetic TestingDeutsche WelleDecember 20th, 2012A German court has ruled that evidence from voluntary mass genetic testing cannot be used against participants' family members.
DNA Ancestry Testing: What Can it Say about Native American Identity?by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesDecember 20th, 2012The question of who belongs to what Native American tribe is rife with political, social, and legal implications. Do DNA ancestry tests provide answers or add another layer of misunderstanding?
A DNA Database in the NHS: The End of Privacy?by Helen WallacePublic Service EuropeDecember 12th, 2012Governments, police, journalists, employers, insurers and even nosy neighbours would inevitably get access to personal information about medical conditions and non-paternity if a DNA database is built in the National Health Service.
Plans for NHS Database of Patients' DNA Angers Privacy Campaignersby Jamie DowardThe Guardian (UK)December 8th, 2012"This Big Brother project will allow every individual and their relatives to be identified and tracked."
The Jury is Out on Nationwide DNA Databaseby Peter StannersThe Copenhagen PostDecember 1st, 2012Questions remain about whether a nationwide DNA database would help solve more crimes or simply be an ineffective drain on police resources.
DNA Forensics Update by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 28th, 2012The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to consider a potentially significant case about police collection of DNA from suspects rather than criminals; and forensic DNA databases round the world continue to proliferate.
The Million Veteran Program: Building VA’s Mega-Database for Genomic Medicineby Joel Kupersmith and Timothy O'LearyHealth AffairsNovember 19th, 2012A mega-database of genomic and clinical information about veterans that launched last year now includes 40 Department of Veterans Affairs' medical centers.
Should We Screen Kids’ Brains and Genes To ID Future Criminals?by Gary MarchantSlateOctober 17th, 2012Intervention might help save troubled kids. But the label could doom them.
DNA Analysis: Far From an Open-and-Shut CaseForensic evidence is widely considered to be the result of purely objective lab tests, but there's growing proof that psychological bias plays a partby Vaughan BellGuardian [UK]October 13th, 2012DNA forensics can become less a case of "matching barcodes" than one of deciding whether any one of the numerous and disjointed "barcode fragments" seem to fit the original.
Citing Privacy Concerns, U.S. Panel Urges End to Secret DNA Testingby Sharon BegleyReutersOctober 11th, 2012In response to companies that offer genome sequencing from such discarded items as cigarette butts, the President's bioethics commission stresses privacy concerns and suggests a ban on "surreptitious commercial testing."
Man accused of rape was innocent victim of DNA sample mistakeby Wesley JohnsonThe Independent [UK]October 1st, 2012The contamination was the result of human error, and the procedures themselves were not adequate. Many laboratories fall short of accepted standards.
Proposed DNA Database Greatly Expands Scope of Surveillanceby Jacob P. KoshyLive MintOctober 1st, 2012In India, a draft bill proposes to expand the reasons for which people's DNA can be collected and stored indefinitely by the state.
Thousands of ex-offenders targeted in drive to add to DNA databaseby Sandra LavilleThe GuardianSeptember 27th, 2012The profiles of thousands of innocent people who have been arrested but not convicted of any crimes remain in the UK's police DNA database.
Federal Judges Reconsider Police Collection of DNAby Emily StehrBiopolitical TimesSeptember 20th, 2012A federal court of appeals will decide the fate of a California law requiring that police take DNA samples of anyone arrested on suspicion of committing a felony.
California and the Fourth Amendment[Editorial]The New York TimesSeptember 18th, 2012The New York Times editorializes on California's law requiring police to take DNA samples from people arrested but not yet convicted of felonies: "It is unconstitutional."
Federal Appeals Court to Hear Challenge to California DNA Collection Lawby Howard MintzSan Jose Mercury NewsSeptember 16th, 2012The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging a California law that permits DNA collection from felony arrestees.
Science, Standards and Forensics: Part III by Brandon L. GarrettHuffington PostSeptember 9th, 2012If we are going to use forensics to put people in prison for years, Congress should pass legislation to make forensics far more of a science.
Where Is the Path Forward for Forensics? Part II by Brandon L. GarrettHuffington PostSeptember 7th, 2012Problems abound with DNA forensics and have led to numerous wrongful convictions, but so far, scientific recommendations have been ignored by Congress. What is the path forward?
Forensics on the Hill: Part I by Brandon L. GarrettHuffington PostSeptember 5th, 2012Donald Eugene Gates' fate was sealed by two stray hairs and he spent nearly three decades in prison, before his innocence was finally proven. How often is DNA forensics wrong?
South Carolina to Collect DNA After Every Felony Arrestby Seanna AdcoxAssociated PressSeptember 1st, 2012South Carolina’s law enforcement agency will soon collect DNA samples from people when they’re arrested for a felony – rather than post-conviction.
DNA Test Jailed Innocent Man for Murderby Hannah BarnesBBC NewsAugust 31st, 2012Scientists, lawyers and politicians have raised concerns over the quality of forensic evidence testing - is the criminal justice system too reliant on lab tests without seeing their limitations?
Forensic Test Can Predict Hair and Eye Colour From DNAby Paul RinconBBC NewsAugust 24th, 2012Scientists have developed a forensic test that can predict both the hair and eye colour of a possible suspect using DNA left at a crime scene.
Will Joseph Merrick, aka the Elephant Man, Ever Rest in Peace?by Emily BeitiksBiopolitical TimesAugust 22nd, 2012Scientists plan to extract DNA from the skeleton of Joseph Merrick in hopes that they can finally explain the cause of his disfigurement. What are the ethical implications?
Vt. High Court to Weigh Pre-Conviction DNA Testingby Dave GramThe Boston GlobeAugust 20th, 2012The Vermont Supreme Court has been asked to rule on the constitutionality of a 2009 law allowing the state to take DNA samples from people charged with but not yet convicted of crimes.
Stop and Swab: Dramatic Increases in DNA Police Databasesby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesAugust 20th, 2012DNA databases continue to grow exponentially as more U.S. states allow police to seize DNA samples from people who have been arrested but not convicted, and from those suspected of misdemeanors as well as felonies.
DNA Samples in Felony Arrests Boosts Ohio Database by Andrew Welsh-HigginsSan Francisco ChronicleAugust 3rd, 2012An Ohio law that requires DNA from anyone arrested on a felony charge has nearly doubled the number of DNA database samples in a single year.
NY Law Expanding DNA Database Takes Effectby Dan WiessnerReutersAugust 1st, 2012Almost anyone convicted of a crime in New York is now required to submit a DNA sample to the state's sweeping criminal database.
Supreme Court May Review Case over DNA Samplesby Jonathan Stempel and Terry BaynesReutersJuly 30th, 2012The Supreme Court signaled on Monday that it may review whether law enforcement officials may collect DNA samples from people who have been accused, but not convicted, of serious crimes.
Federal Court Taking Second Look at Calif. DNA Lawby Associated PressYahoo NewsJuly 26th, 2012A federal appeals court decided to take another look at a California law that requires DNA samples to be taken from anyone arrested for a felony, not just after a conviction.
Supreme Court Stays DNA Rulingby Matt ZapotoskyThe Washington PostJuly 18th, 2012The Supreme Court has temporarily suspended a ruling by a Maryland court that prohibits DNA collection from suspects charged but not yet convicted in violent crimes.
DNA Match Tying Protest to 2004 Killing Is Doubtedby Willam Rashbaum and Joesph GoldsteinThe New York TimesJuly 11th, 2012An alleged DNA link between the 2004 murder of a Juilliard student and a chain placed around an Occupy Wall Street protest in March is likely a laboratory error, experts say.
Sequencing the Genome of an Entire Populationby Rasmus Kragh JakobsenScience NordicJuly 8th, 2012The entire population of the Faroe Islands is set to have their genomes sequenced in the first such undertaking of its kind.
Weak DNA Evidence Could Undermine Justice, Experts Sayby Steve MillsChicago TribuneJuly 6th, 2012The powerful allure that DNA-based forensic techniques hold for jurors may lead to wrongful convictions.
Arizona High Court Limits Analysis of Juvenile Defendants' DNAby Howard FischerArizona Daily StarJune 28th, 2012Analyzing the DNA samples of juveniles who have not been found guilty of any crime is an unconstitutional warrantless search, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled.
DNA Sells! (But don't give people ideas) by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 26th, 2012Madonna, the maven of media manipulation, deftly harvests headlines by denying fans her DNA.
Stop and Frisk -- and DNA Test? by Jason SilversteinHuffington PostJune 22nd, 2012Taking DNA samples from people arrested, but not convicted of a crime, has the potential to make our already racially biased justice system even more problematic.
The Burden of Enforcing GINA: EEOC v. Nestle Illustrates One Challenge in Pursuing Genetic Discrimination Claimsby Jennifer K. Wagner and Dan VorhausGenomics Law ReportJune 20th, 2012A recent court case demonstrates the challenges of enforcing the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
Policy Group’s Study Shows At Least 38 Wrongful Convictions Likely in Old Virginia Casesby Associated PressThe Washington PostJune 18th, 2012A new study of archived DNA samples has found that wrongful convictions in Virginia are higher than thought, especially in sexual assault cases.
A Moment of Judicial Sanity on DNA Forensicsby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesJune 13th, 2012The Maryland Court of Appeals recently ruled that collecting DNA samples upon arrest is unconstitutional – a decision that runs counter to many other states’ decisions to expand their DNA databases through such tactics.
Race Under the Microscope: A New Video by the Center for Genetics and Societyby Emily BeitiksBiopolitical TimesMay 31st, 2012A new video by the Center for Genetics and Society explores how genetic research and its commercial by-products are reviving harmful and false assumptions about race.
DHS Considers Collecting DNA From Kids; DEA and US Marshals Already Doby Jennifer LynchElectronic Frontier FoundationMay 14th, 2012The Department of Homeland Security is considering collecting DNA from kids ages 14 and up—and is exploring expanding its regulations to allow collection from kids younger than that.
Tens of Thousands of Children Have Their DNA Stored by Police, Even if They are Not Charged With Any Crime by Matt BlakeDaily Mail (UK)April 27th, 2012Some police forces are collecting DNA from children as young as ten. Campaigners brand the practice 'bonkers.'
Maryland Law Enforcement Agencies Still Collecting DNA Samplesby Yvonne WengerBaltimore SunApril 25th, 2012Despite a recent court ruling by the state's top court, Maryland police say they will continue to collect DNA samples from people arrested but not convicted for certain crimes.
Md. High Court Strikes Down DNA Collection at Arrest by Yvonne WengerBaltimore SunApril 24th, 2012Defying government and law-enforcement interest in expanding DNA profiling, Maryland's high court rules that collection of DNA at arrest violates civil rights.
Anonymous DNA? No, It's Notby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 19th, 2012An article in Nature Genetics essentially says that keeping aggregated DNA data anonymous is impossible, which raises important questions about privacy and the conduct of research.
New York Expands DNA Database . . . Again by Osagie K. ObasogieApril 5th, 2012Governor Cuomo signed an “all crimes” bill into law in late March, making New York the first state to require anyone convicted of a crime – including small misdemeanors like skipping transit fare – to submit DNA to the state database.
Calls for Inquiry Into 'Astonishing' DNA Error by Paul PeacheyThe IndependentMarch 31st, 2012The second embarrassment admitted this month by Britain's biggest private forensic science laboratory.
New York State Set to Add All Convict DNA to Its Databaseby John Eligon and Thomas KaplanNew York TimesMarch 14th, 2012New York is poised to establish one of the most expansive DNA databases in the nation, requiring DNA samples to accompany all convictions.
New Initiative Aims to Boost Human Rights Standards for DNA Forensicsby Daniel SharpBiopolitical TimesMarch 8th, 2012GeneWatch UK, Council for Responsible Genetics, and Privacy International launch a new collaborative initiative on DNA forensics.
The Case Against DNAby William LangleyThe TelegraphMarch 6th, 2012Genetic profiling was once hailed as a magical tool to catch criminals. So why is it now in danger of being discredited?
Appeals Court Upholds DNA Testing of Felony Suspectsby Carol J. WilliamsLos Angeles TimesFebruary 24th, 2012A panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that collecting DNA samples from people arrested in a felony case doesn't violate their protection from unreasonable searches and seizure.
Chief Judge Backs Broader DNA TestingAssociated PressFebruary 15th, 2012New York's chief judge urges expansion of the state's forensic DNA database.
Expanded N.Y. DNA Database Would Seek To Exonerate the Innocent, Expose the GuiltyCBS New YorkJanuary 11th, 2012Critics are raising several concerns over NY Gov. Cuomo's plan to dramatically expand the state's DNA database.
Gov. Cuomo Plan Pushes DNA Samples from All People Convicted of a Crime in New York State of State initiative would add DNA from all misdemeanors to databaseby Glenn BlainNew York Daily NewsJanuary 8th, 2012In his State of the State Address Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo called for a vast expansion of the state’s DNA database to include samples from persons convicted of “all crimes,” including misdemeanors.
Police Can Identify Suspect's Eye Colour from DNA New ScientistDecember 13th, 2011A new tool can predict whether DNA left at a crime scene has come from someone with blue or brown eyes, or something in between. It's the first time such a tool has been available.
Signs of Skepticism About DNA Forensicsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 1st, 2011Several recent editorials and other articles are expressing a more nuanced view of the issues involved in DNA forensic databases.
Stop the Genetic DragnetPolice currently collect samples of DNA from detainees—retaining the DNA even if a suspect turns out to be innocentby The EditorsScientific AmericanNovember 22nd, 2011Police in about 25 states and federal agents can take a DNA sample after arresting, and before charging, someone. If they are cleared, their DNA stays downtown, a record that is hard to erase.
St. Louis Officers to File Suit over Department's DNA Collectionby Christine ByersSt. Louis Post-DispatchNovember 14th, 2011The St. Louis Police Officers' Association filed a grievance saying the department's collection of DNA from police officers is a violation of Fourth Amendment rights and the officers' contract.
MBTA to swap spit with FBI databaseby Richard WeirBoston HeraldNovember 5th, 2011DNA profiles of saliva evidence, taken as part of a new transit police crackdown on spitting assaults against MBTA workers, will be stored indefinitely in an FBI-run databank.
Visa Wants to Make Money off Your DNAby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 3rd, 2011Visa has filed a patent application for a process that would use, among other sources, DNA databases to identify potential advertising targets.
Police Balk At Submitting Their Own DNA to Forensic Databasesby Osagie K. ObasagieBiopolitical TimesOctober 20th, 2011Despite their ardent support for expanding DNA databases for criminals and non-convicted arrestees, many police officers are refusing to submit their own DNA, calling it a civil rights violation.
Police cite privacy concerns over their own DNAby Dave CollinsChicago Tribune via Associated PressOctober 16th, 2011Many police officers are concerned that they are being required to give DNA samples, purportedly used to remove their DNA from a crime scene, but civil liberties protections are vague.
DNA Forensics: Setting the (Fool’s) Gold Standardby Doug PetBiopolitical TimesOctober 13th, 2011Emerging DNA forensic techniques require urgent scientific and legal scrutiny.
All That Glitters Isn’t Goldby Osagie K. Obasogie and Troy DusterThe Hastings Center ReportOctober 12th, 2011Expanded uses of DNA forensics suggest new ethical, legal, and social implications, but the National Research Council’s 2009 report obscured these concerns.
Celebrating Dorothy Roberts and Fatal Inventionby Doug PetBiopolitical TimesOctober 6th, 2011The Center for Genetics and Society co-sponsored two events celebrating Dorothy Roberts' new book, Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century.
Do Health and Forensic DNA Databases Increase Racial Disparities?by Peter A Chow-White and Troy DusterPLOS MedicineOctober 4th, 2011The issue of the "digital divide" is a growing concern in health and forensic DNA databases, reflecting structural disparities in biomedical research and policing inseparable from racial disparities.
Dorothy Roberts book presentation [video]Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century Co-sponsored by Center for Genetics and Society and Generations Ahead Tuesday, September 20, 2011 | Berkeley, CA
California court deems DNA collection from arrestees unconstitutionalby Emily StehrBiopolical TimesAugust 18th, 2011A California appellate court has ruled that a voter-approved measure to collect DNA from arrestees is unconstitutional.
DNA: Law requiring arrestees' samples struck downby Bob EgelkoSan Francisco ChronicleAugust 5th, 2011A California appeals court has struck down a voter-approved law requiring police to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony.
Next Generation Identification - not a DNA database, but just as problematicby Emily StehrBiopolitical TimesJuly 19th, 2011Standardizing biometrics by linking databases creates serious practical problems and raises fundamental questions about the kind of society in which we live.
Fallout from Using DNA to Identify Osama bin Ladenby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 13th, 2011The CIA organised a fake vaccination program in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from Osama bin Laden's family.
German campaign to stop DNA database expansion, now in English by Emily StehrBiopolitical TimesJuly 7th, 2011Human Q-tips are the symbol of the Gene-ethical Network's campaign to curtail the ever-expanding German DNA database
NY Bill to Expand DNA Database Stalls in Legislatureby Emily StehrBiopolitical TimesJune 30th, 2011Lawmakers argue over access to the state’s forensic database instead of addressing underlying concerns about DNA evidence reliability and individuals’ rights.
Promoting a Genetic Basis for Crimeby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 23rd, 2011An article in the New York Times celebrates a misguided trend toward genetic explanations for crime.
Genetic Basis for Crime: A New Lookby Patricia CohenNew York TimesJune 19th, 2011Less than 20 years ago the National Institutes of Health abruptly withdrew funds for a conference on genetics and crime after outraged complaints that the idea smacked of eugenics. Now criminologists are cautiously returning to the subject.
Illinois Bill Could Allow State To Collect DNA From Those Presumed Innocent, Marking Nationwide Shift by Will GuzzardiWashington PostMay 26th, 2011If Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signs House Bill 3238, it will mark a turning point in the national landscape on DNA collection.
Rights watchdog calls for halt to DNA testing[Canada]CBC NewsMay 25th, 2011Canada's civil liberties watchdog is calling on investigators in a murder investigation to immediately stop voluntary DNA sampling, calling the practice coercive.
Supreme Court: DNA database retention regs are unlawful[United Kingdom]by Lewis PageThe RegisterMay 18th, 2011However the court, noting that Parliament is considering the matter, has declined to specify any remedy for the situation.
Tax agency: DNA test no proof of paternity[Sweden]by Rebecca MartinThe LocalMay 10th, 2011The Swedish Tax Agency does not want to recognise a DNA test as confirmation of the paternity of a Sierra Leone man currently living with his son.
State to double crime searches using family DNAby Maura DolanThe Los Angeles TimesMay 9th, 2011California's success in using 'familial searching' spurs Attorney General Kamala Harris to increase funding for the controversial genetic sleuthing technique in rape, murder and cold cases.
Experts Say DNA Match Is Likely a Parent or Childby Donald G. McNeil Jr. and Pam BelluckThe New York TimesMay 2nd, 2011Some scientific experts said that if results really were so accurate, at least one of the sources was likely to have been a close relative of Osama bin Laden, like a child or parent with whom he shared half his genes.
Another Expansion of DNA Databases: South Korea Collects DNA from Labor Unionistsby Jillian TheilBiopolitical TimesApril 14th, 2011South Korea is expanding its DNA database to include labor activists, which is proving controversial, while the US and other countries try to define the scope of their own.
Forensic DNA databases — without prior arrestby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 12th, 2011Potential offenders, never arrested or even individually identified as suspicious, are now being required to provide the authorities in at least two European towns a sample of their (canine) DNA.
Collection of unionist DNA samplings draws protest[South Korea]by Kim Tae-JongThe Korea TimesApril 6th, 2011Unions and human rights groups claim the excessive application of the law violates the human rights of unionists and it is another way to suppress unionists and their labor union action.
Scotland Yard "seduced for years by science and DNA"by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 29th, 2011Scotland Yard has admitted that basic errors, apparently arising from an over-reliance on forensic DNA, allowed a multiple burglar and rapist to stay free for ten years after he should have been caught, preying on at least another 146 victims.
Scotland Yard left rapist Delroy Grant on the loose by Sean O'Neill and Steve BirdThe AustralianMarch 26th, 2011Over-reliance on DNA led British police astray, leaving a sex attacker free to prey on elderly victims for 10 years after he should have been caught.
DNA Databases and Familial Searching: Handle with Careby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 24th, 2011The second California arrest after familial DNA matching should raise more questions, and provoke more discussion, than it so far has.
Army slow to act as crime-lab worker falsified, botched tests by Marisa Taylor and Michael DoyleThe Kansas City StarMarch 20th, 2011The military has been second-guessing a decade's worth of tests conducted by its one-time star lab analyst. But the problem is bigger than just a lone analyst.
Profits, Princes and Police DNA Databasesby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMarch 16th, 2011A new investigation reveals disturbing commercial pressures to establish forensic DNA databases that may go well beyond legal limits in Europe and the US.
Family DNA tracking leads to sex-assault suspectby Henry K. LeeSan Francisco Chronicle March 15th, 2011A suspect in a 2008 sexual assault of a Santa Cruz coffee-shop worker has been arrested through familial searching.
Palace denies 'shameful' database link[United Kingdom]by Matthew D'Arcypublicservice.co.ukMarch 11th, 2011A deal signed under Tony Blair's government to help the United Arab Emirates build a DNA database of its entire population must be scrapped, human rights and genetics bodies have warned.
Police DNA database to be rolled back in Britainby Helen Wallace, Biopolitical Times guest contributorBiopolitical Times guest contributorMarch 10th, 2011The British government will remove the genetic profiles of one million innocent people from the National DNA Database.
Instant DNA fingerprinting with the push of a buttonby Doug PetBiopolitical TimesMarch 3rd, 2011A new rapid DNA analyzer is being tested for use by the Department of Homeland Security.
Courts 'will reject test secrecy'[The United Kingdom]by Paul RinconBBC News February 24th, 2011There is a serious mismatch between the government's aim to commercialise forensic science and the requirement of courts for openness, according to a top forensic expert.
Is DNA taken from arrestees constitutional? by Nathan GorensteinPhiladelphia InquirerFebruary 24th, 2011A federal appeals court will decide whether it is constitutional for the government to take DNA from people arrested but not convicted and keep the specimens on file like fingerprints.
DNA profiles to be deleted from police database[United Kingdom]BBC NewsFebruary 11th, 2011Following a critical European Court of Human Rights ruling, the UK will make wide-ranging changes to its DNA forensics policies.
State wants to collect your DNA on arrest, not convictionby Chris SullivanMyNorthwest.comFebruary 2nd, 2011There's a push in Washington state to start the collection process much earlier.
Appeals Court Overturns Sentence Based on "Porn Gene"by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 2nd, 2011A judge increased a sentence because he believed the offender had a gene that would eventually be identified; the Court of Appeals called this a "plain error" and sent the case to a different judge for re-sentencing.
Home DNA kits to test paternity go on sale in shops[United Kingdom]by Anthony BaxterBBCFebruary 1st, 2011It is the first High Street shop to sell the kits, which let people settle disputes over whether someone is father to a baby without outside help.
Court Rejects Judge’s Assertion of a Child Pornography Geneby Benjamin WeiserThe New York Times January 28th, 2011The judge improperly found that the defendant would return to viewing child pornography “because of an as-of-yet undiscovered gene.”
Feds to Pay States to Expand Forensic DNA Databases?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 26th, 2011A newly introduced bill would incentivize states to expand the collection of DNA from people arrested for certain crimes, before trial let alone conviction.
Schumer visits Utica to tout DNA fingerprintingby Robert BrauchleUtica Observer-DispatchJanuary 20th, 2011US Senator Charles Schumer is introducing federal legislation that would allow law enforcement agencies to take DNA samples from anyone arrested for violent crimes.
Uncle Sam could want YOU and your DNA, tooby Jillian TheilBiopolitical TimesJanuary 20th, 2011A secretive group of scientific advisors recommends that the Department of Defense collect DNA from US soldiers, and gives little attention to the potential implications of such a practice.
Police DNA test plan to put off prostitutes' punters[United Kingdom]by Jane Fae OzimekThe Register (UK)January 19th, 2011Another day, another database idea.
Your Next Book: Genetic Justiceby Doug PetBiopolitical TimesJanuary 13th, 2011A new book about the use of DNA-based techniques in the criminal justice system is a biopolitical must-read.
DNA on verge of describing crooks' looksby Douglas QuanThe Vancouver SunJanuary 1st, 2011Dutch scientists announce they have devised a method of reliably predicting someone's eye color and age -- to within nine years – based merely on a blood sample.
SJC ruling extends reach of DNA casesby Jonathan SaltzmanThe Boston GlobeDecember 10th, 2010The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts rules that the statute of limitation does not apply in cases that link DNA evidence to new suspects.
Guide to Genetic Privacy Releasedby Jillian TheilBiopolitical TimesDecember 2nd, 2010The Council for Responsible Genetics offers a new consumer’s guide to understanding the privacy implications of genetic technologies.
WikiLeaks Raise Genetic Concernsby Doug PetBiopolitical TimesDecember 2nd, 2010Wiki-leaked documents reveal US government efforts to stockpile DNA from foreign diplomats.
California ruling backs police use of DNA from discarded cigaretteby Denny WalshThe Sacramento BeeNovember 23rd, 2010The court ruled that a suspect in a criminal investigation has no expectation of privacy in a discarded item, and a DNA test of the item is not an unconstitutional search.
Justice Dept. to reverse Bush-era policy on DNA testsby Jerry MarkonWashington Post November 18th, 2010The Attorney General is reversing a controversial policy under which numerous defendants have waived their right to DNA testing even though that right is guaranteed under federal law.
The case against evidenceby Keith O'BrienThe Boston GlobeNovember 7th, 2010From fingerprints to high-tech CSI, forensic science plays a much smaller role than you would think.
More Aggressive Action from New York On DNA Databasesby Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesOctober 31st, 2010In August, State Division of Criminal Justice Service Acting Commissioner Sean M. Byrne sent a letter to each one of New York’s district attorneys “strongly encourag[ing] [them] to require a DNA sample as a condition of all plea bargains.”
Whodunit? by Jessica CerretaniBoston GlobeOctober 29th, 2010Family members' DNA may lead investigators to the answers, but using it as a forensic technique brings up some troubling questions.
"You Steal, You’re Marked"by Doug PetBiopolitical TimesOctober 21st, 2010New security measures in the Netherlands use location-specific synthetic DNA spray to mark suspects.
French Human Rights Group Blasts Police Collection of Roma DNAby Jillian TheilBiopolitical TimesOctober 20th, 2010If true, recent allegations that French police have been illegally collecting DNA from Roma individuals would constitute a disturbing case of genetic discrimination.
Major overhaul backed for DNA evidence [Australia]by Chris MerrittThe AustralianOctober 15th, 2010If implemented, the plan would subject labs to internal and external auditing, and forensic analysis of DNA samples would be conducted only by accredited labs.
New Scientist Puts Another Chink in DNA Forensics’ Armorby Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesOctober 14th, 2010The New Scientist’s Linda Geddes draws attention to the role of subjectivity in determining the significance of DNA evidence.
DNA Testing of Prospects Continues Under New Rulesby Michael S. SchmidtThe New York Times October 9th, 2010Major League Baseball is once again using DNA testing on teenage prospects, but this time under new guidelines.
French cops claimed to hold secret, illegal gypsy database by Jane Fae OzimekThe RegisterOctober 9th, 2010The French national police force denies tracking the Roma population.
Victims Using DNA Forensics Proactivelyby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesSeptember 30th, 2010High-risk victims are becoming increasingly proactive in providing DNA evidence that may assist law enforcement.
DNA Is New Weapon In Fight Against Dogfightingby Amy StandenNPR Morning EditionSeptember 27th, 2010The dog database makes some people very nervous...."We know that if DNA was the be all and end all, all of Secretariats' foals would be champions and win the Triple Crown. And they don't."
Democrats and DNA Databases by Osagie K. ObasogieThe Huffington PostSeptember 24th, 2010A new bill means that the federal government would pay states to engage in a practice that will likely lead innocent people's DNA to be stored alongside convicted criminals.
Court backs DNA testing as condition of federal bailby Denny Walsh Sacramento BeeSeptember 15th, 2010A California court OK's DNA testing of charged defendants released on bail but not yet been convicted.
Law allows for wider sampling of DNA [New Zealand]by Hamish McNeillyThe Otago Daily TimesSeptember 7th, 2010Under new amendments, police may collect DNA samples as they take an offender's fingerprints.
How DNA evidence creates victims of chance by Linda GeddesThe New ScientistAugust 18th, 2010The DNA statistics juries are provided with often overstate the evidence
In Fighting Crime, How Wide Should a Genetic Net Reach?by Natasha SingerThe New York TimesJuly 24th, 2010Privacy and equal protection concerns are raised by the latest criminal investigation technique called "familial searching."
ACLU says California DNA law violates privacyby Bob EgelkoSan Francisco ChronicleJuly 14th, 2010The American Civil Liberties Union told a court that the government should not be allowed to take the "genetic blueprint" of someone who hasn't been convicted of a crime.
Familial Searching Hits The Spotlightby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesJuly 14th, 2010Controversial familial searches in forensic DNA databases helped lead to the arrest of a serial killer known as the ‘Grim Sleeper.’
‘Grim Sleeper’ Arrest Fans Debate on DNA Useby Jennifer SteinhauerThe New York Times July 8th, 2010The arrest of the “Grim Sleeper” has put one of the hottest controversies in American law enforcement to its first major test.
DNA database has 100,000 names[Netherlands]DutchNewsJune 22nd, 2010The DNA database operated by the Dutch forensic institute has over 100,000 names.
"Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated"Race and Genetics Ten Years After the Human Genome Projectby Osagie K. ObasogieThe Huffington PostJune 18th, 2010Instead of closing the door on the historically misleading notion of race-as-biology, the ten-year-old Human Genome Project has drawn new attention toward biology's role in racial categories.
House votes to expand national DNA arrest databaseby Declan McCullaghCNetMay 19th, 2010Millions of Americans arrested for but not convicted of crimes will likely have their DNA forcibly extracted and added to a national database, according to a bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Every Dog in the Databaseby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesMay 19th, 2010A ritzy condo in Baltimore is proposing to mandate DNA tests for every dog in the building.
Pretending to be Toughby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 19th, 2010The English forensic DNA database has been dragged into the current UK election campaign with false accusations that supporting reform means being "soft" on crime.
The dangers of growing DNA databasesby Osagie K. ObasogieLos Angeles TimesApril 9th, 2010The practice of retaining genetic samples from people arrested for a crime but not convicted is growing in the U.S. It has serious human rights implications.
Tories give up plan to block police retention of DNA samples - for now[United Kingdom]by Francis Elliott and Richard Ford The TimesApril 8th, 2010The Conservative Party has abandoned attempts to block the retention of DNA samples, to pre-empt a Labour campaign leading up to elections.
When Scientists Pick a Fight with the Law by Osagie K. ObasogieScience ProgressApril 7th, 2010Researchers are calling for the FBI to allow independent scientists to look under the hood of their sizable DNA forensics database.
Patricia Williams on DNA Databasesby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesApril 6th, 2010In her latest column for The Nation, Columbia Law Professor Patricia Williams offers an insightful critique of a burgeoning law enforcement practice: taking and retaining DNA samples from individuals arrested for a crime regardless of whether they are ever charged or convicted.
Science in court: DNA's identity crisisby Natasha GilbertNatureMarch 17th, 2010It may be the gold standard of forensic science, but questions are now being raised about DNA identification from ever-smaller human traces.
Commons committee rejects six-year DNA records plan [United Kingdom]by Alan TravisThe GuardianMarch 8th, 2010A report published in advance of a key parliamentary vote says DNA profiles of innocent people should be kept for no longer than three years.
DNA’s Dirty Little Secretby Michael BobelianWashington Monthly (March/April 2010)A forensic tool renowned for exonerating the innocent may actually be putting them in prison
DNA Deceptionby Emily RamshawTexas TribuneFebruary 22nd, 2010Texas's program of newborn blood sampling has transferred hundreds of infant blood spots to an Armed Forces lab to build a national registry, without parental consent.
Partial Matches Allowed in New Yorkby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesFebruary 13th, 2010New York’s Commission on Forensic Science has recently approved the use of partial matches in state criminal investigations.
New Rule Allows Use of Partial DNA Matchesby Jeremy W. PetersNew York TimesJanuary 24th, 2010New York has become the latest jurisdiction to permit the controversial familial matching of DNA for forensic evidence.
Judge allows DNA sampling for felony arresteesby Bob EgelkoSan Francisco ChronicleDecember 24th, 2009A federal judge refused to block a voter-approved California law requiring anyone arrested on a felony charge to provide DNA samples.
Two New Publications from Generations Aheadby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesDecember 22nd, 2009Reports from convenings on DNA forensics and communities of color, and on discussions among disability rights and reproductive rights and justice advocates.
From schoolboy squabble to DNA database in one easy step - if you're blackby Fiona HamiltonThe Times (UK)November 24th, 2009A report by the UK Human Genetics Commission states that over three quarters of black men aged between 18 and 35 have their DNA profiles posted on the national database.
Police making arrests 'just to gather DNA samples' [United Kingdom]BBC newsNovember 24th, 2009UK police officers have made arrests just to get people on to the DNA database, a retired police superintendent has claimed.
DNA Swab for Your Job by Scott JaschikInside Higher EdOctober 29th, 2009The University of Akron--in what some experts believe is a first--is requiring that new employees submit a DNA sample.
ACLU Challenges California Prop. 69 by Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesOctober 16th, 2009Prop. 69’s arrestee provision marks a radical expansion of the government’s power to indefinitely retain intimate information about citizens – many of whom may have done nothing more than be accused of committing a crime.
Experts condemn asylum DNA tests BBC NewsSeptember 30th, 2009Leading scientists have criticised as "naive" and scientifically flawed DNA tests for asylum seekers to establish where they come from.
It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Fails a DNA Ancestry Testby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesSeptember 30th, 2009Officials in the United Kingdom have launched the Human Provenance Pilot Project in an attempt to use genetic technologies to determine the nationality of asylum seekers.
DNA pioneer calls for innocent to be taken off databaseby Ben Padley and Ellen BranaghPress AssociationSeptember 10th, 2009The man who discovered DNA fingerprinting demanded the removal of innocent people from the United Kingdom database.
DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show by Andrew PollackNew York TimesAugust 17th, 2009With fabricated blood or saliva, “you can just engineer a crime scene,” said the lead author of a new study.
Baseball’s Use of DNA Raises Questions by Michael S. Schmidt and Aland SchwarzNew York TimesJuly 22nd, 2009Major League Baseball is conducting genetic testing on some promising young players and their parents.
Blood Samples Raise Questions of PrivacySome Samples Are Stored and Used For Research Without Parents' Consentby Rob SteinWashington PostJune 30th, 2009There is increasing attention--and controversy--over the storage of and research with blood samples from newborn babies.
Justices Reject Inmate Right to DNA Testsby Adam LiptakNew York TimesJune 19th, 2009Prisoners have no constitutional right to DNA testing that might prove their innocence, the US Supreme Court ruled
The Color of Our GenesBalancing the Promise and Risks of Racial Categories in Human Biotechnologyby Osagie ObasogieScience ProgressJune 15th, 2009Advances in genomics may yield profound medical, scientific, and social advances. But if we are not careful, commercial and forensic applications may resuscitate harmful ideas about race.
Biocriminology: Genetic links in a criminal chainby Peter MonaghanThe Chronicle of Higher EducationJune 10th, 2009Recent discoveries in genetics and neurology have prompted a new focus on biology in social sciences, including criminology
Prosecutors Block Access to DNA Testing for Inmatesby Shaila DewanNew York TimesMay 17th, 2009Prosecutors are using new arguments to get around laws enabling convicted inmates to get a DNA test.
The DNA DebacleHow the Federal Government Botched the DNA Backlog Crisisby Ben ProtessProPublicaMay 5th, 2009A backlog in DNA forensics is largely due to more expansive state and federal policies, which were promoted by a lobbying firm with close ties to both the Justice Department and to companies that profit directly from increased DNA testing.
Moving in the Wrong Directionby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesApril 22nd, 2009In recent weeks, both Nevada and Colorado are pursuing state laws that would place arrestees’ DNA in forensic databases, right next to profiles from convicted felons.
F.B.I. and States Vastly Expand DNA Databasesby Solomon MooreNew York TimesApril 18th, 2009Law enforcement officials are vastly expanding their collection of DNA to include millions more people who have been arrested or detained but not yet convicted,
Phantom of Heilbronn Revealed!by Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesApril 1st, 2009Contamination of forensic genetic samples led German police on a 15-year wild goose chase.
60 Minutes on Eyewitness Testimony and DNA Forensicsby Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesMarch 31st, 2009Gut wrenching stories such as the one profiled by 60 Minutes may unduly “gold-standardize” DNA forensics and encourage a CSI culture that doesn’t think as critically as it should about these technologies’ potential abuses.
To Sketch a Thief: Genes Draw Likeness of Suspects by Gautam NaikWall Street JournalMarch 30th, 2009In the field of DNA forensics, scientists identify genetic markers for traits revealing appearance and ethnicity.
'DNA bungle' haunts German policeBBC NewsMarch 28th, 2009The "phantom killer of Heilbronn" works at a cotton-swab factory.
Genetic Surveillance for Allby Jeffrey RosenSlateMarch 17th, 2009What if the FBI put the family of everyone who has ever been convicted or arrested into a giant DNA database?
Do Convicts Have A Right to DNA Testing? by Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesMarch 12th, 2009On the heels of the Innocence Project’s 200th exoneration through post-conviction DNA testing, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up a case that will determine whether all prisoners should have a right to such testing.
Osagie Obasogie on the Jeff Farias Show [MP3 audio]by Jeff FariasThe Jeff Farias ShowMarch 10th, 2009A discussion about race and human biotechnology on a talk radio program
National Academies of Science Takes on Forensicsby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesMarch 2nd, 2009The National Academies of Science has released a report on the tragic state of criminal forensics.
Penn State Team Unraveling Genetics Behind the Human Faceby Andrea AndersonGenomeWeb NewsFebruary 20th, 2009Studies are providing insights into the genetic basis for the wide range of facial traits observed in humans.
DNA left at crime scene could be used to create picture of criminal's face, say scientistsDaily Mail OnlineFebruary 17th, 2009"Maybe 500 facial markers and 500 ancestry markers" will be enough to build an accurate and complete face.
Playing the Gene Card? A Report on Race and Human Biotechnologyby Osagie ObasogieAn ever-increasing number of DNA-based products are being promoted and sold. While many have important benefits, "Playing the Gene Card?" focuses on three that pose particular risks for African American and other minority communities.
Could genetic technologies set back efforts toward racial justice?January 28th, 2009New and emerging genetic technologies may be hindering efforts towards racial justice, according to a new report issued by the Center for Genetics and Society, a public interest group.
The danger of DNA: It isn't perfectby Maura Dolan and Jason Felch Los Angeles TimesDecember 26th, 2008By far the most reliable forensic science, it still has limits: Samples can be contaminated and may go untested for years. And collecting it may violate privacy laws.
New Rule Expands DNA Collection to All People Arrestedby Spencer S. HsuThe Washington PostDecember 12th, 2008Immigration and civil liberties groups condemned a new U.S. government policy to collect DNA samples from all noncitizens detained by authorities and all people arrested for federal crimes.
DNA Databases: Another Human Rights Violation in the U.S. Criminal Justice System? by Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesDecember 9th, 2008A ruling last week out of the European Court of Human Rights suggests that the US might be engaging in a human rights violation by collecting and retaining DNA profiles from arrestees never convicted of a crime.
European Court Rules Against British DNA Databaseby Sarah LyallThe New York TimesDecember 4th, 2008The European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously on Thursday that Britain's policy of gathering and storing the fingerprints and DNA of all criminal suspects was a violation of the human right to privacy.
Doing the right thing with DNA forensicsby Osagie ObasagieBiopolitical TimesNovember 21st, 2008It is certainly heartening to see that at least one D.A. is doing whatever he can to use DNA technologies not only as a tool for conviction, but also as a opportunity for redemption.
The Exoneratorby Jennifer S. Forsyth and Leslie EatonWall Street JournalNovember 15th, 2008The Dallas D.A. is using DNA to review old cases, free Prisoners -- and riling his peers in the process
Supreme Court to Review DNA Case by David StoutThe New York TimesNovember 3rd, 2008The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to review an Alaska rape case to determine whether a defendant has a constitutional right to have tests conducted on genetic evidence found at a crime scene.
Progress Is Minimal in Clearing DNA Cases by Solomon MooreThe New York TimesOctober 24th, 2008Local and state law enforcement agencies have made uneven progress in reducing a nationwide backlog of cases awaiting DNA analysis over the past four years, according to reports filed by more than 100 agencies with the National Institute of Justice.
DNA’s identity crisisby Chris SmithSan FranciscoAugust 31st, 2008If defense attorney Bicka Barlow and a growing group of skeptical lawyers and scientists are right, we have built our justice system’s use of DNA evidence on statistical sand.
DNA Databases Run Amokby Jesse ReynoldsBiopolitical TimesAugust 11th, 2008Genetic forensics may assist in solving crimes, but the too-common assumption of the technique's infallibility makes it prone to implementation errors - seen most recently in the UK and Australia.
More From the Los Angeles Times on DNA Databasesby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesJuly 22nd, 2008The Los Angeles Times published another article on what has become an intriguing series questioning the long held belief that matches made in DNA databases uniquely identify perpetrators with an extraordinarily high level of certainty
How reliable is DNA in identifying suspects? by Jason Felch and Maura DolanLos Angeles TimesJuly 20th, 2008Concerns are growing about whether the odds of people sharing genetic profiles are sometimes higher than portrayed. But the FBI is seeking to block further inquiry.
DNA matches aren't always a lockby Jason Felch and Maura DolanLos Angeles TimesMay 3rd, 2008Prosecutors and crime labs across the country routinely use numbers that exaggerate the significance of DNA matches in "cold hit" cases, in which a suspect is identified through a database search.
California Takes Lead on DNA Crime-Fighting Technique by Maura Dolan Jason FelchLos Angeles TimesApril 26th, 2008California will adopt the most aggressive approach in the nation to a controversial crime-fighting technique that uses DNA to try to identify elusive criminals through their relatives. The state will search its database for relatives of unidentified suspects in hopes of developing leads.
Washington Post on DNA Forensicsby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesApril 22nd, 2008The Washington Post takes a serious look at the social and legal implications of DNA forensics.
DNA Tests Offer Deeper Examination Of Accusedby Rick WeissWashington PostApril 20th, 2008Second generation" forensic genetic tests seek to shed light on the biological traits and psychological states of the accused , in some cases resolving long-standing legal tangles but in others raising new ones.
US set to swell its criminal DNA databaseby Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesApril 17th, 2008The federal government will soon start collecting DNA samples from millions of innocent people.
U.S. to Expand Collection Of Crime Suspects' DNAby Ellen Nakashima and Spencer HsuWashington PostApril 17th, 2008The U.S. government will soon begin collecting DNA samples from all citizens arrested in connection with any federal crime and from many immigrants detained by federal authorities.
Child Abuse: UK Police Want Genes of 5-Year-Old "Future Criminals"by Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesMarch 18th, 2008A top UK police official wants to collect DNA samples from children as young as five.
FBI Prepares Vast Database Of Biometrics$1 Billion Project to Include Images of Irises and Facesby Ellen NakashimaWashington PostDecember 22nd, 2007The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.
A New DNA Test Can ID a Suspect's Race, But Police Won't Touch Itby Melba NewsomeWiredDecember 20th, 2007DNAWitness touches on race and racial profiling — a subject with such a tortured history that people can't countenance the existence of the technology, even if they don't understand how it works.
DNA samples OK for nonviolent felonsby Kim CurtisAssocaited PressNovember 29th, 2007A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that collecting DNA evidence from nonviolent drug offenders doesn't violate their privacy rights.
Genetic Driftby Ziba KashefColorlines (Sept / Oct 2007)October 23rd, 2007The study of human genes has resurged a debate about the nature of race, with dangerous consequences for criminal justice.
First One in the Pool...by Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesOctober 17th, 2007The point, of course, is that in fact not everybody is equally represented in the DNA databases that are rapidly expanding in the United States as well as the UK.
Exoneration Using DNA Brings Change in Legal Systemby SOLOMON MOORENew York TimesOctober 1st, 2007State lawmakers across the country are adopting broad changes to criminal justice procedures as a response to the exoneration of more than 200 convicts through the use of DNA evidence.
They Really Mean EVERYBODY into the Poolby Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesSeptember 21st, 2007A small uproar is brewing in the UK after news that the country’s criminal forensic database contains the DNA of a 7-month-old baby girl.
Foolproof DNA? by Osagie ObasogieBiopolitical TimesAugust 24th, 2007News this week that a World War II airman’s body was found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains raised several families’ hopes that their lost loved ones might have been recovered. Yet little information was found with the unidentified airman; a buffalo nickel, an army uniform, and faded photographs are all investigators have to go by.
200 and Counting for the Innocence Projectby Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesApril 27th, 2007The Innocence Project recently reached a remarkable milestone: its 200th exoneration. But it may be tempting to use these 200 stories to justify broadening the use of DNA forensics in criminal justice.
Creative DNA collection raises ethical questionsMSNBCMarch 19th, 2007Police, eager to close cases, secretly trail suspects to get their genetic IDs
Surging DNA Databasesby Osagie K. ObasogieBiopolitical TimesJanuary 25th, 2007USA Today reports that in addition to collecting DNA from persons convicted of serious felonies, the Justice Department is planning to take samples from those violating immigration laws, war on terror detainees, and others accused but not convicted of federal crimes.
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