By Alan Marzilli
This day progressively more questions are raised in regards to the conclusiveness of DNA facts and even if it may be used to convict defendants in legal trials.
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Extra resources for DNA Evidence (Point Counterpoint)
Does it matter how police collect DNA samples, or is it always invasive? DNA contains extremely private information. Collecting a DNA sample also takes information that is extremely private. People who have been arrested are required to provide certain information for identification purposes. Booking procedures typically involve taking mug-shot photographs from the front and the profile and inking all of the suspect’s fingers to make fingerprint records. Point2 44 7/12/04 5:52 AM Page 44 DNA EVIDENCE privacy advocates distinguish this type of information, used for identification purposes, with DNA, which can provide many types of information about an individual.
For example, police can use a “buccal swab,” a cotton swab that can be gently rubbed against the inside of a person’s cheek. Because DNA is found in all living cells, the development of new methods of collection is likely to continue. Some advocates of DNA testing believe that methods of collecting DNA samples other than blood tests do not constitute searches for the purpose of implicating Fourth Amendment protections. Attorney Jim Wooley told an audience of law enforcement officials that a method such as using a buccal swab might not constitute a search: “Because it’s so easy to get them, you don’t have an expectation of privacy, which is the linchpin of Fourth Amendment analysis,” he said.
24 Addressing law enforcement officials, attorney Jim Wooley made similar comments about the comparison between a DNA profile and a mug shot: “[A DNA profile is] very different from a mug shot. From a mug shot you can’t tell whether or not somebody is going to get sick. There is no theoretical possibility you can abuse that mug shot. . ” 25 • If police have unsolved murders to deal with, would they really have time to test for a suspect’s likelihood of developing cancer? Point2 7/12/04 5:52 AM Page 45 Collecting DNA Samples Threatens Privacy Although proponents of law-enforcement data banks maintain that the DNA profile collected by standard identification testing consists of only a few sites on the DNA that do not contain any information useful to medical research, several privacy advocates have warned that with the rate of advancement in medical research, that could change at any time, and perhaps one of the markers will be linked to some disease.