The Individual and Technology – A Contemporary Issue
Effects of Technology
The Australian Institute of Criminology has produced documentations explaining “the technique of ‘DNA identification’ compares the DNA of two bodily samples to ascertain whether or not they came from the same human being. Identity of DNA in the cells across both samples implies that the samples are derived from the same person (or identical twins); non-identity implies different human sources.”
Beginning in the mid-1980s, the development of DNA analysis technology has revolutionised the field of forensic science within the criminal justice system. As the refinement of procedures and technology continues, even minute samples of biological material (including blood, saliva, semen and skin cells) are able to be analysed and used to link or acquit perpetrators of crimes. (Whitney, R n.d.)
A Brief history of DNA testing – TIME http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1905706,00.html
Issues and Legal Implications
DNA Identification in Post-conviction Reviews
Mishandling of Evidence
The mishandling and contamination of evidence poses serious threats to the achievement of justice within the court. In October of 2009, Wyong Local Court was forced to overturn a burgular’s conviction after samples were mishandled in the laboratory, leading to a false match. Victoria has also experienced problems with DNA contamination, leading to a
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DNA testing is the most accurate way to identify an individual, and should therefore be used to increase the effectiveness of our justice system. This brings to light the issue of genetic privacy. Society questions the motives of government in DNA collection and floods the media, which acts as an informal actor on the court, with ideas of this invasion of privacy and encroachment of biological liberties. The 2010 article, Create a National DNA Database? stated that “such sensitive information is prone to misuse, and one should not have such blind faith in the security of government access to it.” EPIC, the electronic privacy
This paper examines Carrell et al’s research along with three other scholarly research articles to better understand the effects that the DNA recovered from a crime scene has on a particular case and the forensic science community.
crime scene could be analyzed and compared with a sample from a suspect. A match could place
Contamination can occur when transferring DNA or the collection of DNA evidence. In the case involving Mr. Farah, he was wrongful charged of rape although he had appealed in the High Court with the basis of the scientists not having said he was undisputedly the perpetrator. The scientists said that it was a very small chance that it was not Mr. Farah which he argued was still a reasonable doubt. The judges dismissed the case within twenty minutes but it was later found that the evidence was contaminated. Other examples include R v. Rendell (1999) and R v. Carroll (2002.)Though technology is advancing, the process of collecting, processing and analyzing DNA has faults. There needs to be more training, procedures and checks put in place for the system to be effective. Faults in evidence presents to be ineffective justice as although the jury weighed up the evidence, there was inadequate access to allow him to refute the claims and lead to wrongful convictions.
DNA testing is a critical and accurate tool in linking accused and even convicted criminals for crimes, and should be widely used to assess guilt or innocence before jail sentences are imposed. It was started up by scientists Francis C. Crick and James D, Watson in 1953 as they had described the uses, structures and purpose of the DNA “deoxyribonucleic acid” genetic fingerprint that contains organism information about an individual (testing
DNA’s certainty is dramatized in today’s society, which gives lay people the impression that DNA is infallible; however, in the case of Wayne Butler and others, the fallibility of DNA is exposed. Wayne Butler was accused of sadistically murdering Natasha Douty who was found beaten to death on Brampton Island in 1983. Wayne Butler was vacationing on Brampton Island during the timeframe of the murder; however, claimed to be jogging during this time. After submitting a blood test, Butler was eliminated as a suspect. However, Butler was arrested in 2001 for this murder because semen, which was found on the towel at the crime scene, was found to be a match. The John Tonge Centre performed a DNA test on the evidence on the towel. Butler was found innocent after it was identified that the John Tonge Centre mislabeled the test tubes containing the crime scene evidence. (“DNA Evidence”) This case proves that DNA testing may not be as reliable as we think.
DNA forensics can also narrow down suspect pools, exonerate innocent suspects, and link crimes together if the same DNA is found at both scenes. However, without existing suspects, a DNA profile cannot direct an investigation because current knowledge of genotype-phenotype relation is too vague for DNA phenotyping. For example, a profile from a first time offender that has no match in any database may give the information that the criminal is a left handed male of medium stature with red hair and freckles. It would be impossible to interview every man who fits that description. However, with available suspects, DNA forensics has many advantages over other forms of evidence. One is the longevity of DNA. Although it will deteriorate if exposed to sunlight, it can remain intact for centuries under proper conditions (Sachs, 2004). Because DNA is so durable, investigators can reopen old cases to reexamine evidence.
Identification means the steps needed in the analysis of unknown fluids to see what the substance is (“Biology,” 2016). Individualization determines whether a certain individual may or may not be the donor of a bodily substance by examining various markers (“Biology,” 2016). Processing biological trace evidence uses highly complex, automated technology to create a DNA profile that helps the investigators through the association of suspects to victims and to crime scenes (“Biology Services,” 2017). By using techniques such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), forensic biologists can use variable markers found on the regular chromosomes (STR’s), the sex chromosomes (Y-STR’s) and within the mitochondrial DNA to distinguish one person’s DNA from another to a high degree of certainty (“Biology,” 2016). Forensic biologists are involved in assisting investigative agencies because police were led to Bernardo by a police sketch (“Serial Killers: Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka,” 2013). The police took DNA (hair, blood and saliva) from Bernardo as a matter of routine to test it against specimens found on a rape victim’s clothing (Butts, n.d.). Forensic biologists were able to name the substances left on Kristen French’s body and match it to Bernardo’s DNA by processing it. On February 17th, 1995, Bernardo was arrested for the murders of Mahaffy, French, and the Scarborough rapes (Butts,
Because there are many different types of crimes, it is often difficult to find enough physical evidence to convict a person. For example, in rape cases there is usually only a small amount of physical evidence, so cases are based on word alone. Because of DNA testing we can now take samples from the victim and attempt to match the results with those of the suspect. Therefore, DNA is sometimes the only real way of determining the guilt or innocence of a suspect without having any witnesses. Since many rape cases are left unsolved, DNA testing is believed to be the most accurate way of keeping sex offenders off the street. Because of the growing trend of using DNA in rape cases especially, a company in Brooklyn now advertises a small flashlight-like device intended to be used to jab at attackers in order to collect a sample of his skin for later use (Adler). According to a study by Joseph Peterson, with the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois, DNA evidence does not have a major impact on the decision to either convict or acquit
Forensic DNA Phenotyping is a new and emerging field of forensic science. As it is so new, there is very little in terms of literature on this field, very little testing done on this type of identification, and few cases that have used DNA Phenotyping to assist in the investigation. The first documented case of DNA Phenotyping being used is in the early 2000s, so it has had under 20 years of research and experimentation with it. There are many weaknesses to the version of DNA Phenotyping that is available for use so far, but once there is more research done on it, and more experimentation with this new science, DNA Phenotyping could easily be a major tool to investigators around the world.
With regard to the US, where social science and STS research have, focused less on forensic databases and more on the production of expertise and evidence in court, Jay Aronson provided a historical account of the early practices, the scientific and legal controversies, and the ultimately successful acceptance of forensic DNA evidence in court in 2007. Another particularity of social science and STS research in this domain is that it has so far mostly concentrated its “high end” forensic technologies, namely those which received a lot of public attention because they were new, because stakeholders in the criminal justice system struggled to determine the parameters of scientific reliability and admissibility, or because they were prominently featured in the media. While the use of DNA analysis for police investigations and forensic casework dates back to the late 1980s, the second half of the 1990s marked the beginning of the quest to render DNA profiles systematically and routinely searchable and minable by setting up centralized DNA databases in many countries around the world. A DNA molecule is a long, twisting chain known as a double helix. DNA looks pretty complex, but it's really made of only four nucleotides: Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, and Thymine. These nucleotides exist as base pairs that link together like a ladder. Adenine and Thymine always bond together as a pair, and Cytosine and Guanine bond together as a pair.
Recent advancements in DNA technology have improved law enforcement’s ability to use DNA to solve old cases. Original forensic applications of DNA analysis were developed using a technology called restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP). Although very old cases (more than 10 years) may not have had RFLP analysis done, this kind of DNA testing may have been attempted on more recent unsolved cases. However, because RFLP analysis required a relatively large quantity of DNA, testing may not have been successful. Similarly, biological evidence deemed insufficient in size for testing may not have been previously submitted for testing. Also, if a biological sample was degraded by environmental factors such as dirt or mold, RFLP analysis may have been unsuccessful at yielding a result (Turman).
Throughout the years technology has come an extensive way, resulting in the Criminal Justice System to improve their ways to catch criminals. One of these ways includes, DNA Fingerprinting. This reveals an opportunity for Crime Scene Analyst to have a greater possibility to capture criminals; a greater chance than DNA itself.
Another work by Jobling and Gill, it states that the DNA analysis has beenknown to become a crucial and in day to day life as part of modern forensic casework, alluringhighlyperceptive PCR(Polymerase Chain Reaction) based techniques to analyze the biological material. Suspects can be companion to crime scenes, or one crime scene to another, using DNA evidence from arestricted as the saliva on a cigarette butt, skin cells on steering wheel or pet hairs on clothing. Large DNA databases can be quicklyquestion formally and systematically for matches to a DNA profiles at the crime scene, or even half matches to close relatives of a criminal. Unexamined 'cold' cases involving the sexual assault can be solved decades after investigations were begun by studying depraved DNA from stored swabs or microscope slides. However, they noted that the DNA evidence must always be studied within the framework of other evidence off