Criminal Justice Capstone Project
Criminal Justice Assignment
Investigating DNA: Problems, Challenges, and Solutions
The introduction of DNA into criminal investigation was a game-changing event: since the DNA of every human being is a unique pattern of genes, it became easier for investigators to identify suspects and confirm their guilt through special characteristics found at the crime scene.
DNA examination, in fact, is one of the most important tools of criminal investigation in sexual assault cases. In 1999, New York police authorities convicted a man of 22 sexual assaults based on data obtained through DNA testing CITATION Uni14 l 16393 (United States Department of Justice, 2014). Not only is the technology effective in identifying suspects, but the results can also be used as the basis for an arrest warrant once the suspect is identified.
However, the current system of collecting and identifying DNA has scope for large improvement: one of the major challenges that the field faces is the lack of adequately trained personnel to collect and analyse samples. A survey published in the National Institute of Justice Journal reiterated the dire condition of DNA investigation in the country: of all the cases registered with the FBI, less than ten percent had proper DNA samples CITATION Wee97 l 16393 (Weedn & Hicks, 1997).
Additionally, crime labs require a certain amount of assistance and additional information from the law enforcement officers, which does not always happen. Therefore, there is a persisting gap of communication between the two parties: analysts are not often provided with a complete report, and investigation officers are not taught the analysis procedure.
Thirdly, there is a dizzying backlog of cases in the field, which further increases the pressure on labs and authorities. Much of this is the direct result of the conditions detailed above. Additionally, the severe lack of resources to the field, from trained personnel to proper equipment, has owed to only 6% of over 250,000 cases being analysed. This number has surprised not only activists but also law enforcement officers CITATION Nat l 16393 (National Center for Women and Policing, 2001).
Immediate rectifications to the scenario include better communication between the officers and analysts. Details about the crime and state of the evidence, as well as specific instructions pertaining to whichever piece needs to be tested is a must. Better resources should be provided to the crime labs, not only in terms of the state of the art equipment but also effective software and systems to help speed the process. Furthermore, to facilitate better communication between the departments, both should be educated on how the process works for the other, so as to ensure better specifics.
BIBLIOGRAPHY National Center for Women and Policing. (2001). DNA Evidence and Issues. In N. C. Policing, Successfully Investigating Acquaintance Sexual Assault: A National Training Manual for Law Enforcement. National Center for Women and Policing. Retrieved from http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/acquaintsa/participant/dnaevidence.pdf
United States Department of Justice . (2014, September 9). Using DNA to Solve Crimes . Retrieved from Justice.gov: http://www.justice.gov/ag/advancing-justice-through-dna-technology-using-dna-solve-crimes
Weedn, V. W., & Hicks, J. W. ( 1997, December). The Unrealized Potential of DNA Testing. National Institute of Justice Journal, 16-23.