Inside the Cell

Inside the Cell

The Dark Side of Forensic DNA

eBook - 2015
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"DNA typing -- the analysis of a biological sample for a person's genetic signature -- has led to the unprecedented exoneration of hundreds of wrongfully convicted people. And every day we hear stories about how police used DNA to capture a dangerous rapist or killer. Reading these accounts, it is hard not to think of DNA typing as an unmitigated good. Who can argue with a technology that helps catch bad guys and correct law enforcement mistakes? But there is a darker side to this story -- a version less likely to play out on dramatic television shows. In Inside the Cell, Erin Murphy shows how DNA typing can be subject to misuse, mistake, and error, and lead to a police state run amok. Murphy shows the perils of a society in which "stop-and-frisk" becomes "stop-and-spit," or in which police pose undercover to get a DNA sample from your discarded lunch. Already, police can collect DNA when making an arrest, sometimes before charging a person with a crime. The government is building a massive DNA database, stockpiling samples from as much as a third of the male population, and the laws regulating what they can and cannot do with them are weak. Murphy shows how this invites the riskiest kind of genetic surveillance imaginable. Just because DNA testing is good science does not mean that it is foolproof. Faulty forensic science is the number two factor leading to wrongful conviction, and yet we have done little to improve the use of science in criminal justice. Forensic labs are largely unregulated and lacking in meaningful oversight standards, as evidenced by the involvement of nearly every major forensic lab in a DNA-related scandal. We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to collect DNA samples from convicted offenders. But we have spent far less to hire analysts to wade through huge backlogs, and virtually nothing to ensure that evidence will ever even collected from the crime scene. We are at a critical moment in time for forensic DNA testing
programs. We may continue on the road we are on now, with our blind faith and limitless enthusiasm for handing over our genetic secrets to the police for them to use at their unfettered discretion. Or, as Murphy advises here, we can pause to take stock of our failures and our successes, appreciate what is truly at stake and what is truly to be gained, and change course toward a smarter DNA policy that is in everybody's interest. "-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Nation Books, 2015.
ISBN: 9781568584706
Branch Call Number: eBOOK OVERDRI
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor

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