Scientific advancements not only fascinate the human mind but also bring practical use to mankind in many ways possible. Ever since the discovery of DNA scientists have been busy isolating and studying the genetic carrier to understand and study the human body in detail.
DNA testing has made it possible for scientists to isolate the DNA and study its markers that can help them to give a face to a DNA sample. This technique has particularly revolutionized the criminal justice system.
Forensics science studies DNA samples left at the crime scenes and tries to identify the culprits with greater accuracy. Now, what is DNA testing and how it is helping the criminal justice system are all explained in this article? So keep reading!
What Is DNA Testing?
DNA testing or genetic testing is the profiling of an individual’s DNA. Scientists isolate the DNA and then perform a series of tests to identify the particular markers that distinguish one person from another.
Physically, all human beings are the same. Everyone has two eyes, two legs and arms, and the same physical experience. Most people may have the same eye colour and hair texture, however, every DNA is different from the other.
Not even the identical twins have the same DNA. This difference makes it possible for scientists to identify a criminal using DNA samples found at the crime scene.
DNA testing involves identifying specific markers and finding out changes in genetic makeup that differentiate one person from another.
DNA Testing In Forensics
Ever since the concept of DNA profiling was introduced, ways of using the technique to identify criminals were sought after. Initially, scientists would need a DNA-rich sample to isolate and identify the criminal’s DNA from the victim’s DNA. However, as technology has advanced today, as little as a drop of semen or saliva or a smear of blood is enough to perform DNA testing.
Today, the police team collects all the potential evidence from the crime scene and hands it over to the forensics team. The sample put on a cotton swab is enough for the forensic scientists to isolate the DNA and run it through an extensive database to identify the criminal.
How Is DNA Testing Done?
When a forensic scientist receives a sample from the crime scene, he tries to separate different DNAs from each other by using various techniques such as RFLP methods and PCR assays. When the DNA is separated, short tandem repeats (STPs) are identified and studied. These coded sequences can help scientists give a face to the DNA sample.
Once scientists identify the specific codes, these are made to run through an official database. If the police database has records of the culprit, it can be identified instantly.
DNA testing has always been a complex procedure. It required dedicated and skilled scientists to perform the tests successfully. The procedure was also very time-consuming. However, as technology has advanced today, people can perform DNA tests at home using a home dna test kit. This kit is easy to use and gives considerably accurate results.
Pros And Cons Of DNA Testing In the Criminal Justice System
DNA testing is seen as a revolutionary step in the betterment of the criminal justice system. However, like everything else, it may have pros and cons. Before discussing all the reasons why it can be a bad idea, let’s see the multiple benefits of the DNA testing system.
Advantages Of DNA Testing In the Criminal Justice System
Speeds Up The Process
DNA testing can speed up the crime-solving process. Police may take months, even years to find out the true culprit, whereas a forensic scientist can do so in a matter of days if he is provided with a good sample. DNA testing has helped the justice system put many criminals behind the bars and has helped identity issues. This would not have been possible otherwise.
A DNA test provides evidence based on the facts that will be accepted by the courts to put the criminal behind the bars. Since an evidence-based report is more likely to put the true culprit to justice, this is one of the greatest benefits of using DNA testing in the criminal justice system. This help reduce innocent convictions.
Little Sample Would Do
Police do not have to collect large samples to identify the criminals, as was required in older days, today the technology is so advanced that even a smear of blood or a drop of bodily fluid will do a fine job.
Disadvantages Of DNA Testing In the Criminal Justice System
Now coming to the drawbacks of using DNA test in the criminal justice system, here are a few to explain.
One of the biggest debates against DNA testing is based on ethical values. People against this particular technique argue that it is unethical to keep the DNA sample of the criminal in the database after he has already been convicted. This violates the basic rights of privacy.
Since law enforcement agencies keep a huge data bank of convicted criminals and other potential criminals, this record in the wrong hands can have a potential security threat to the citizens of the country.
This is not something like bank information that can be stolen and no serious consequences will be faced. We are talking about the complete information of a human being, including his family and relatives. It can be extremely dangerous if gotten into the wrong hands.
Moreover, leakage of such information can have serious political repercussions that might become difficult to handle.
Misuse Of The Sample
Lastly, DNA testing is not 100% accurate. Since the test is done by a human being, there is always a risk of human error. Many cases have seen an innocent man being convicted because the lab engineer manipulated or misused the samples.
If samples get switched, the wrong person might be identified, thus reducing the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.
FAQs By Audience
How has DNA technology improved the ability to solve crimes?
can also be used to define paternity, exonerate the wrongly accused, and identify victims of crime, or disasters.
How effective is DNA testing in criminal cases?
How is DNA used to help prisoners?
Words of Wisdom
DNA testing is an effective tool for identifying criminals based on the samples gathered from the crime scenes. Unique DNA sequences are identified that separate one person from another. It is often criticised for being unethical and a potential security threat, however, its benefits outweigh the disadvantages. DNA testing can also inform you about your genetic risk for various conditions.