|Amanda Knox and DNA Contamination, Biopolitical 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.|
|Kercher Trial: How Does DNA Contamination Occur?, BBCJanuary 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?|
|Biopolitical News of the Year 2013, Biopolitical 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.|
|The Case for a New Biopolitics, YouTubeDecember 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.|
|The Odds of Innocence, NautilusNovember 3rd, 2013Juries in criminal trials are often encouraged to think of DNA profiling as an exact science. The statistics, however, tell a different story.|
|More DNA Samples, More Debate, The 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.|
|More Concerns Over Familial DNA Searching, Biopolitical 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.|
|The Fallibility of DNA, The 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 Inquiry, NatureJuly 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.|
|Is Your DNA in a Police Database?, Associated 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.|
|Welcome to the “Genetic Panopticon”, Biopolitical 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.|
|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 Milk, Biopolitical TimesFebruary 19th, 2013The remains of King Richard III were not really identified by DNA, but that was what the headlines said.|
|Too Much InformationSupreme Court 2013: Why collecting DNA from people who are arrested won’t help solve more crimes., SlateFebruary 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.|
|Gene-ism and Mass Murder, Biopolitical 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 Dragnet, Stuff (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. |
|DNA Forensics Update , Biopolitical 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.|
|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 part, Guardian [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.
|Federal Judges Reconsider Police Collection of DNA, Biopolitical 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.|
|Forensics on the Hill: Part I , Huffington 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?|
|DNA Test Jailed Innocent Man for Murder, BBC 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?|
|Stop and Swab: Dramatic Increases in DNA Police Databases, Biopolitical 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.
|A Moment of Judicial Sanity on DNA Forensics, Biopolitical 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.|
|Anonymous DNA? No, It's Not, Biopolitical 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 April 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.|
|The Case Against DNA, The TelegraphMarch 6th, 2012Genetic profiling was once hailed as a magical tool to catch criminals. So why is it now in danger of being discredited?|
|Signs of Skepticism About DNA Forensics, Biopolitical 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 innocent, Scientific 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.
|MBTA to swap spit with FBI database, Boston 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 DNA, Biopolitical TimesNovember 3rd, 2011Visa has filed a patent application for a process that would use, among other sources, DNA databases to identify potential advertising targets.|
|Celebrating Dorothy Roberts and Fatal Invention, Biopolitical 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.
|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|
|Genetic Basis for Crime: A New Look, New 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.|
|Forensic DNA databases — without prior arrest, Biopolitical 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.|
|Scotland Yard "seduced for years by science and DNA", Biopolitical 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.|
|Profits, Princes and Police DNA Databases, Biopolitical 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.|
|Courts 'will reject test secrecy'[The United Kingdom], BBC 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.
|Appeals Court Overturns Sentence Based on "Porn Gene", Biopolitical 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.|
|Uncle Sam could want YOU and your DNA, too, Biopolitical 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.
|Your Next Book: Genetic Justice, Biopolitical TimesJanuary 13th, 2011A new book about the use of DNA-based techniques in the criminal justice system is a biopolitical must-read.
|Guide to Genetic Privacy Released, Biopolitical TimesDecember 2nd, 2010The Council for Responsible Genetics offers a new consumer’s guide to understanding the privacy implications of genetic technologies.|
|WikiLeaks Raise Genetic Concerns, Biopolitical TimesDecember 2nd, 2010Wiki-leaked documents reveal US government efforts to stockpile DNA from foreign diplomats.
|More Aggressive Action from New York On DNA Databases, Biopolitical 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.” |
, Boston 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", Biopolitical TimesOctober 21st, 2010New security measures in the Netherlands use location-specific synthetic DNA spray to mark suspects.
|Democrats and DNA Databases , The 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.|
|Familial Searching Hits The Spotlight, Biopolitical TimesJuly 14th, 2010Controversial familial searches in forensic DNA databases helped lead to the arrest of a serial killer known as the ‘Grim Sleeper.’|
|House votes to expand national DNA arrest database, CNetMay 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 Database, Biopolitical TimesMay 19th, 2010A ritzy condo in Baltimore is proposing to mandate DNA tests for every dog in the building.|
|Pretending to be Tough, Biopolitical 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.|
|Patricia Williams on DNA Databases, Biopolitical 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.|
|DNA Deception, Texas 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 York, Biopolitical TimesFebruary 13th, 2010New York’s Commission on Forensic Science has recently approved the use of partial matches in state criminal investigations. |
|Two New Publications from Generations Ahead, Biopolitical TimesDecember 22nd, 2009Reports from convenings on DNA forensics and communities of color, and on discussions among disability rights and reproductive rights and justice advocates.|
|ACLU Challenges California Prop. 69 , Biopolitical 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.|
|The Color of Our GenesBalancing the Promise and Risks of Racial Categories in Human Biotechnology, Science 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.|
|The DNA DebacleHow the Federal Government Botched the DNA Backlog Crisis, ProPublicaMay 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 Direction, Biopolitical 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. |
|Phantom of Heilbronn Revealed!, Biopolitical TimesApril 1st, 2009Contamination of forensic genetic samples led German police on a 15-year wild goose chase.|
|60 Minutes on Eyewitness Testimony and DNA Forensics, Biopolitical 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.|
|Do Convicts Have A Right to DNA Testing? , Biopolitical 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.|
|Playing the Gene Card?
A Report on Race and Human BiotechnologyAn 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.|
|Doing the right thing with DNA forensics, Biopolitical 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.|
|Supreme Court to Review DNA Case
, The 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
, The 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 crisis, San 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 Amok, Biopolitical 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 Databases, Biopolitical 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 |
|DNA matches aren't always a lock, Los 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
, Los 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 Forensics, Biopolitical TimesApril 22nd, 2008The Washington Post takes a serious look at the social and legal implications of DNA forensics.|
|FBI Prepares Vast Database Of Biometrics$1 Billion Project to Include Images of Irises and Faces, Washington 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.|
|First One in the Pool..., Biopolitical 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.|
|They Really Mean EVERYBODY into the Pool, Biopolitical 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? , Biopolitical 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 Project, Biopolitical 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.|
|Surging DNA Databases, Biopolitical 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.|
|CSI Daycare?, Biopolitical TimesDecember 5th, 2006Using kits that are available online, at police stations, or at doctors’ offices, parents are swabbing their children’s cheeks and banking their DNA on the off chance that it will help in their rescue or identification in the event of abduction.|
|Are DNA Databases Being Misused?, Biopolitical TimesNovember 10th, 2006Sir Alec Jeffreys, father of modern DNA fingerprinting, recently chastised the UK police for using his work to "creep" upon innocent people's freedoms.|
|Race and Reification in Science, ScienceFebruary 18th, 2005The use of the concept of race in pharmacogenomics, forensics, and human molecular genetics continues apace, despite the imprecision of the category and the growing number of voices suggesting caution, and even a "sunset clause" for its continued deployment. The new technologies that can generate SNP patterns and profiles for any population have created an ever growing risk that racial categories will be mistakenly re-inscribed as "genetic." The author urges geneticists to counter this problem actively by the way they report their findings||