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What are the pros and cons of DNA fingerprinting?

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Quick Answer

Supporters of DNA fingerprinting argue that the process makes it easier and more efficient for police to solve crimes. Critics claim that DNA fingerprinting is invasive and violates citizens’ right to privacy.

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Full Answer

The clearest argument for DNA fingerprinting is that it aids in crime-scene analysis, making it far easier to connect criminals to crimes. Using databases, law enforcement officers can match trace amounts of DNA collected from crime scenes to any individual whose DNA is cataloged in the system. Matching crime-scene evidence to old crimes or previously convicted criminals was nearly impossible prior to DNA testing, but the advent of the technology has made it far easier for law enforcement officials to catch criminals and solve cold cases.

Critics of DNA fingerprinting argue that the process comes at too heavy a cost to privacy. Once DNA evidence is collected from a suspect, it remains in law enforcement databases even if the suspect is found innocent, and agencies are under no obligation to remove DNA samples. Additionally, voluntary DNA testing is often initiated during criminal investigations to eliminate suspects. However, individuals who choose not to submit to testing are typically subject to extra scrutiny. For example, the Innocence Project reports that a group of suspects in New Orleans were told that they would be taken to court and placed under surveillance if they did not volunteer DNA.

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