Genetic Testimony: A Guide to Forensic DNA Profiling / Edition 1

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Overview

In the last decade, forensic DNA profiling has emerged as a powerful method to identify the guilty and exonerate the innocent. What makes it such a powerful technique? How does DNA profiling work? What are the advantages and drawbacks to the technology, and how is DNA profiling changing the way the criminal justice system functions? This guide answers these questions by outlining the basic methods used in forensic DNA profiling and explaining how DNA evidence has the power to convict or exonerate. Extraordinary stories illustrate how this new technology is expanding and transforming criminal justice systems across the globe.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780131423381
  • Publisher: Benjamin Cummings
  • Publication date: 7/14/2003
  • Series: Special Topics in Biology Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 48
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.03 (h) x 0.10 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Modern forensic DNA profiling is rapidly changing all facets of the criminal justice system. The extreme sensitivity and high levels of discrimination inherent in these methods now make it possible to identify a person who dropped a bloodspot the size of a pinhead or who licked the back of a postage stamp. Crime scene samples that are decades old or ravaged by fire and decay are now yielding profiles that answer questions about identity or guilt.

Forensic DNA profiling names suspects, exonerates the innocent, and identifies the remains of disaster victims. It also challenges traditional forensic methods and pinpoints weaknesses in police techniques and the criminal justice system. As police and governments expand the uses of DNA profiling and compile DNA databanks, questions arise about who should be profiled and how DNA databanks should be regulated.

Over the next decade, it will be increasingly important for all of us to understand the workings of these technologies, why they hold such power, and what shortcomings exist.

In this guide, we explain how current DNA profiling methods work. We also answer questions about the uses of this new technology and how forensic DNA profiling is changing both criminal investigations and the criminal justice system.

The information presented is as current and accurate as possible, and it is derived from scientific literature, the media, and government sources. Because forensic DNA profiling methods are changing rapidly, readers are encouraged to refer to the publication and Internet sources listed in the References and Resources section for the latest developments.

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Table of Contents

Introduction.

Questions About DNA Profiling Methods.

What Is the Biological Basis for Forensic DNA Profiling? What Methods Are Used in Forensic DNA Profiling and How Do They Work? Variable Number of Tandem Repeat (VNTR) Methods. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-Based Methods.

Questions About Interpreting DNA Profiles.

Why are DNA Profiles Interpreted in Terms of Probabilities? How Are DNA Profile Probabilities Calculated and Presented? Is a Person's DNA Profile Unique? If a Defendant's Profile Matches That of the Crime Scene Sample, Does That Prove the Defendant's Guilt?

Questions About the Use of Forensic DNA Profiling.

What Sort of Crime Evidence Is Suitable for DNA Analysis? What Are the Uses of Forensic DNA Profiling? What Are the Advantages of DNA Evidence Over Other Types of Biological Forensic Evidence? How Reliable is DNA Profile Technology? What Are the Main Problems with Forensic DNA Profiling?

Questions About the Use, Collection, and Storage of DNA Profiles.

How Many Profiles Are in the CODIS Databanks? Whose DNA Profile Should Be Included in DNA Databases? After Profiling and Electronic Storage of the Profile, Should the Tissue Sample Be Retained or Destroyed? Can Personal or Medical Information Be Obtained from DNA Profiles?

Questions About DNA Profiling and the Criminal Justice System.

How Can DNA Evidence Exonerate Those Who Are Wrongly Convicted? Why Are Innocent People Convicted of Violent Crimes and Then Exonerated? Is It Possible for an Innocent Person to Be Convicted Based on DNA Evidence? How Is DNA Evidence Changing the American Criminal Justice System?

Boxes.

The Colin Pitchfork Story. The Polymerase Chain Reaction. Forensic DNA Databases. DNA Profiling Identifies September 11 Victims. DNA Identifies Victims of Srebrenica Massacre. Polish Dragnet Apprehends Serial Rapist. The O.J. Simpson Story. The Sotolusson Story. The Earl Washington Story. The Marvin Anderson Story.

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Preface

Modern forensic DNA profiling is rapidly changing all facets of the criminal justice system. The extreme sensitivity and high levels of discrimination inherent in these methods now make it possible to identify a person who dropped a bloodspot the size of a pinhead or who licked the back of a postage stamp. Crime scene samples that are decades old or ravaged by fire and decay are now yielding profiles that answer questions about identity or guilt.

Forensic DNA profiling names suspects, exonerates the innocent, and identifies the remains of disaster victims. It also challenges traditional forensic methods and pinpoints weaknesses in police techniques and the criminal justice system. As police and governments expand the uses of DNA profiling and compile DNA databanks, questions arise about who should be profiled and how DNA databanks should be regulated.

Over the next decade, it will be increasingly important for all of us to understand the workings of these technologies, why they hold such power, and what shortcomings exist.

In this guide, we explain how current DNA profiling methods work. We also answer questions about the uses of this new technology and how forensic DNA profiling is changing both criminal investigations and the criminal justice system.

The information presented is as current and accurate as possible, and it is derived from scientific literature, the media, and government sources. Because forensic DNA profiling methods are changing rapidly, readers are encouraged to refer to the publication and Internet sources listed in the References and Resources section for the latest developments.

Read More Show Less

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