A DNA Bank Is Good For All

Essay, Research Paper

Imagine that a convicted child molester is released from jail and

that he is now traveling around the country looking for work. One day

this criminal returns to his old ways and he attacks a young child whose

dead body is found in a deserted field the following day. The only trace

of evidence at the crime scene is a semen specimen on the boys clothes.

Now this specimen could be useful if the police tracked down, and arrested

the suspect, and then took a blood sample of his that matched the crime

scene specimen. But, since no other clues are found this criminal was

never arrested and for the next couple years he repeated this act many

more times. It is a shame that innocent children had to die because of

this sick man, and most people would agree criminals like this should be

stopped at any cost. Now just think what would have happened had their

been a DNA data bank that contained this man To understand why a DNA

data bank is necessary it is important to know exactly what DNA is.

Firstly, there are cells which makes up all organisms and inside these

cells are chromosomes. Chromosomes, which are made up of DNA, contain all

the hereditary information that an individual has. Now this DNA

(Deoxyribonucleic acid) which makes up these chromosomes simply contains

the blueprints of the organism. It is DNA which determines what, where,

and when to make a certain protein, and it basically is the storage center

for information in almost all creatures. This knowledge of DNA is

important because now it is possible to show the correlation between DNA

and forensic technology.

There are many reasons why DNA is such a useful tool for law

enforcement. One important feature of DNA, relates to the fact that all

individuals have unique DNA, is that each cell in an organism has

identical DNA. Whether it is found in in skin cells, hair cells, semen

cells, or blood cells the DNA found in one cell is identical to the DNA

found in all other cells in the body Another extremely crucial

characteristic of DNA is that everyone has their own unique DNA. Since

humans in general are basically alike in that we all have legs, arms,

hearts brain it is obvious that most DNA is identical. The key though to

identifying individuals through DNA is not through the strands of DNA that

have a known function, rather it is the DNA that has no known function.

Inside these strands of DNA with no known function, called Junk DNA, are

different repetitive DNA patterns which are unique from person to person.

This is why DNA can always, be traced back to one person (with the

exception of identical twins).

There are two tests for analyzing DNA for forensic use, Restriction

Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP), and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).

The RFLP test consists of taking a sample of body tissue which contains

DNA. After locating the DNA thousands of different combinations of DNA

repeats called Variable Number of Tandem Repeats (VNTR) are examined.

These VNTR There are a great number of reasons to have a DNA data

bank, but first it is important to accurately describe the requirements

for this DNA data bank. Only convicted criminals would be entered into

the bank. Also, only Junk DNA would be kept as data, DNA that contains

no personal or hereditary information. One advantage to a data bank will

be the quick access to information. Prosecutors are going to be able to

match the DNA collected at a crime scene with DNA that has already been

collected in the bank and this will allow them to apply for a warrant

faster. Take the case of Jean Ann Broderick. In 1991 she was found

murdered and raped in her Minnesota apartment. There were no witnesses or

evidence that led to any one suspect. The only lead at the crime scene

was a semen stain on the victim. Minnesota at this time was one of the

few states that had and used a DNA data bank of convicted criminals, so

the Minnesota authorities checked their sample DNA with the DNA data bank

and found a match that linked the DNA with Martin Perez, a 37 year old

illegal alien. After Perez was identified by the DNA, he was also

identified by witnesses, who saw him at Jean Ann BroderickAnother

advantage of having a DNA data bank is that it is much easier to identify

repeat offenders. Most sexual offenders commit a series of crimes, so

the importance of a DNA data bank can obviously be seen. The DNA

specimen left at the crime scene can be used to identify a suspect before

other similar crimes are convicted. A situation like this occured in

1994 in Manhattan, New York, when three rapes occured. Anthony Monagas

had lived in Florida in the early 1980One more significant use of DNA

will be to eliminate suspects and avoid false arrests. Attorney

General, Janet Reno may have put it best "DNA is a powerful tool for

convicting the guilty, but todayMany people argue against the idea

of a DNA data base. They claim that DNA carries the genetic blueprints

of people and that with the completion of the Human Genome Project DNA

will be able to reveal all the personal information about an individual.

DNA can say who the carriers are for diseases, or the measurements of one

intelligence, and this is an invasion of privacy. These results can be

sold to insurance companies or other agencies that can hold an individuals

genetic information against their ownselves. Now as mentioned beforeonly

Junk DNA, which contains information that has no known use, will be used.

Next, the actual DNA sample does not have to be kept only the X-ray film,

and testing strips which can all be kept on computers. The government in

an effort to make sure all DNA data basing is up to standard designed the

DNA Identification Act to govern both the analysis and reporting of DNA

forensic results, as well as providing penalties for the disclosure of DNA

information. Grants will be given out over the next five years to

forensic laboratories that comply with governmental standards, participate

in external proficency testing and limit access to DNA information.

Under this type of system DNA information is no more dangerous than actual


Another argument that many people have about DNA is the claim that

DNA is unreliable. There is a high chance of getting either incorrect

results, or fudged results because of the small room for error and the

tampering that can be done. Yes there is a chance of error but results

have shown that DNA is 99% accurate. Nothing is perfect and a system

cannot be much more efficient than this. Tampering with evidence is not

unique to DNA; evidence of any sort can be tampered with. DNA does not

determine guilt, it is just evidence and even if DNA does match it does

not mean that this is a definite sentence of guilt. Take the O.J. Simpson

case. Massive DNA evidence was compiled that all pointed to O.J., but

since there was suspicion of tampering by the L.A.P.D. he was not

convicted of the crime. DNA evidence can be unreliable, but under the

legal system unreliable evidence probably wonBy weighing up the

arguments for a DNA data bank it is clear that there should be a DNA data

bank for all convicted criminals. Currently the existence of a DNA bank

for convicted criminals is crucial to the crime fighting business. Over

30 thirty states have their own DNA databases and the FBI has a national

database named Combined DNA Index System(CODIS), and it includes the DNA

databases of all states that currently have one. The advantages of a DNA

data base are overwhelming: The instant access to information can help in

the quick apprehension of a criminal, it is much easier to identify repeat

offenders in order to prevent future crimes, and the data base can also

effectively eliminate suspects and end false arrests. All of society

greatly benefits from a DNA database of convicted criminals. No one

absolutely knows how effective a DNA data base will be against crime in

the future, but presently it fights crime like nothing else.


1. Javurek, Peter, "Canada2.Frank, Laura, "Fingerprints from

DNA not always on money" USA TODAY 7-15-94

3. Levy, Harlan, AND THE BLOOD CRIED OUT, Basic Books, 1996

4. Maharaj, Davan, "DNA Tests Becoming The Key out of Prison in

Orange County" Los Angeles Times, 6-22-96


INNOCENCE; AWARDS $8.75 MILL www.elibrary.com/getdoc.cgi?id=5322482776.

6. Billings, Paul, DNA ON TRIAL, 1995


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