Ronald Bailey writes:
Earlier this week, the New York Times ran a provocative op/ed by Yale law student Michael Seringhaus in which he advocated that the DNA profiles of every American be kept in a central forensic database. The goal of such a database is to help the police fight crime by better enabling them to find perpetrators who leave DNA traces at the scenes of their misdeeds. Current forensic DNA databases generally contain DNA profiles from convicts, but many states and the feds are now also including DNA profiles from arrestees.
Seringhaus thinks the current system is unfair because the databases are racially skewed. He also notes that the practice of familial searches which partial DNA matches can point to family members of people who already have their DNA on file, putting a criminal’s family members under a cloud of suspicion although they have not been arrested nor convicted of any crime. Seringhaus is right when he notes that the DNA profiles can be used only for identification and does not reveal other genetic information provided that the DNA samples are destroyed once the profiles are digitally encoded. So what does he think are the advantages of a universal DNA database?
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