DNA Profiling and Criminal Justice: Ethical and Legal Issues

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The American system of justice is predicated on the search for justice. The emergence of DNA evidence as a source of evidence in this search has become a powerful ally for both the prosecution and defense in criminal trials and there has been no clear cut advantage gained by either side of the equation. The use of DNA evidence, often referred to as DNA profiling, has given police and prosecutors a new, and more reliable, means of identifying criminal but the cost of the procedure, the time involved, and the general unavailability of labs to perform the testing has caused DNA profiling to be used sparingly. On the opposite side of the ledger, DNA profiling has also allowed criminal defense lawyers and defendants to eliminate themselves from suspicion it has also served as a means of exoneration. While DNA profiling has obvious advantages, there remains doubt as to its wide scale use and how it will eventually be used by the criminal justice system. Experts in the field foresee the strong possibility of abuse in the use of DNA evidence and profiling and there are also moral and ethical issues being discussed (Walsh, 2005). DNA profiling is based on the scientific fact that every living organism possesses a set of unique DNA patterns that are found in each cell of the organism. Through scientific testing these unique patterns are able to be identified and can be related to the organism that has provided a sample for testing. There a variety of sources for the testing sample.
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