DNA analysis has opened new doors in solving crimes. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) has been analyzed to prove innocence or guilt of suspects of crimes with great accuracy. The use of DNA analysis can be performed one of two ways to solve crimes. In specific cases where the perpetrator has been identified, DNA samples can be taken from suspects to compare with DNA evidence found on the crime scene. If the two biological evidence samples match with DNA testing, the suspect is charged with the crime.
The second way is when the suspect has not been identified by visual conformation but DNA left at the crime scene is available for analysis. Under controlled conditions, the sample of DNA evidence is analyzed and then compared to DNA databases of offender profiles. A match can identify the perpetrator of the crime. An added bonus for law enforcement is the DNA analyzed sample can be checked for any links to other unsolved crimes in the DNA databases locally, statewide and nationally.
Accuracy in testing is vital to the viability of the use of DNA to rule in or rule out suspects of crimes. In the late 1980s, groundwork was put into place by the Federal government to begin a system of national, state and local DNA databases for the storage and exchange of DNA profiles. The system was named the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and was made available to the law enforcement agencies for their use in solving crimes. CODIS have the ability to test and compare DNA databases profiles obtained from convicted offenders. They also have the ability to link DNA evidence from different crime scenes which can identify possible serial criminals. Because of the crime solving abilities of the CODIS, states began to pass laws in the late 1980s and early 1990s to require convicted offenders of specific crimes give DNA samples. Today, all fifty states and the Federal government have passed laws requiring this DNA sample.
DNA technology has begun to rapidly improve over the last years. The development of the "DNA chip technology" which uses nanotechnology, improves speed and resolution of DNA evidence analysis. This reduces the time needed from several hours to several minutes and is cost effective both in less capital funds needed and increase in capacity to process more cases. DNA analysis has become an irreplaceable tool in solving crimes. Like the snowflake, no two DNA samples are the same with the exception of identical twins. DNA analysis can be compared to fingerprint analysis in how matches are determined.
DNA evidence, when used to its full potential, will be able to help prevent some of the most serious violent crimes. Before this can happen the system needs to still improve:
1) Decrease the backlogs of unanalyzed DNA samples.
2) Equipment in some labs need to be updated with new technology to help decrease
delays in getting results.
3) Forensic scientists in the criminal justice system DNA crime labs must be required to have up-to-date training to be able to do their jobs at the highest level to make DNA technology work solving crimes.
First responder investigators must be trained on how to identify, collect and preserve DNA evidence at the crime scene. Officers of the courts must be educated in how DNA evidence technology and science work. Policymakers and Lawmakers must render a basic legal structure that utilizes the technology, keeps the integrity as well as safeguard privacy to ensure the continued use of DNA testing in the criminal justice system. With all the above requirements adhered to, DNA analysis can help ensure accuracy and fairness in the criminal justice system.