DNA is deoxyribonucleic acid and it carries genetic information. DNA analysis has become a very useful tool that can contribute to convicting criminals and can free innocent prisoners. Using DNA testing methods to pinpoint suspects in criminal justice began around the 1990s.
DNA profiling primarily began as a way of dictating paternity. The first encounter where DNA officially participated in a conviction was in 1987. It took place in Orange County, Florida. DNA was found as a match to a blood sample and semen traces found in a rape kit. This DNA profile played a huge part in convicting Tommy Lee Andrews of rape.
The steps of DNA analysis include collecting and Isolating the DNA from the evidence sample that contains the unknown DNA, processing the DNA, determining the DNA test results, and comparing the DNA to the newly found and tested DNA.
By collecting samples of hair, blood, bone, or other various body products, scientists can create a “DNA profile” of someone. A DNA profile is a specific DNA pattern. Scientists collect this DNA at crime scenes and from victims and suspects. DNA patterns from the suspect either match or don’t match the DNA found at the crime scene. When DNA is found to match, scientists call it an inclusion. When DNA is found to not match, scientists call it an exclusion. When DNA is found inconclusive, it neither matches nor not matches.
DNA can also be compared and tested to any DNA found in a database called the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS. CODIS was established in 1998 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the FBI.
Biological or DNA evidence is not always visible to the naked eye. That is why crime scenes must be preserved very well because it is at risk of being contaminated. It is proticall for crime scene investigators to wear gloves and such to protect this from happening. The best way to store and transport DNA is by putting in a cold environment. There are four different types of DNA Analysis. Polymerase Chain Reaction or PCR replicates any and all of the DNA contained in an evidence sample. Short Tandem Repeat or STR evaluates specific regions that are found on nuclear DNA. Y-Chromosome Analysis is when chromosome markers target only the male fraction of a biological sample. Lasty, mitochondrial Analysis is used for testing the DNA of very old bones, teeth, and hair samples.
Some types of samples that are suitable for DNA testing include unknown samples, samples from unidentified bodies, reference samples, samples to use when there are no reference samples available, reference samples from people who have been transfused, samples from relatives, and samples to determine paternity or maternity of a child. A DNA sample that has been stored either dry or frozen, no matter the age, could be considered for DNA analysis.
An example of how the advancement of DNA has affected the justice system is when in 1999 in New York and authorities matched DNA evidence to 22 or more sexual assaults and robberies. This helped get a very dangerous criminal of the streets. Even though there has been immense growth of the advancements of DNA analysis, there are still so many ways in which it could be improved including: terminating backlogs, expanding the capacity of crime laboratories, extensive research leading to further development, and training the community of criminal justice.
I believe DNA analysis use in the criminal justice system has largely increased the effectiveness of just law practice. I further believe that there is a lot of improvements that need to be focused on to fully utilize DNA analysis in the criminal justice system. Some people who benefit from these recent advancements in DNA analysis include police officers, forensic science technicians, and lawyers. I believe that everyone is affected positively by the advancements of DNA analysis because it contributes to convicting criminals, which ultimately keeps our entire society and community safer. Obviously these new discoveries are not good news for criminals, if they leave any trace of DNA while they commit a crime, there is a very high chance that they will be convicted.