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The Positive and Negative Effects of Dna Profiling

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The Positive And Negative Effects of DNA Profiling

Justin Broyles

Apr. 12, 1995

Justice Theory

Lance Miller

Genetic engineering has developed and blossomed at a frightening rate in

the last decade. Originating as merely an area of interest for scientists,

genetic engineering has now become an area of which all people should be

somewhat knowledgeable.

DNA profiling has many uses, both positive and negative, in our society.

Aside from its usefulness in many legal investigations, DNA profiling can be

used in the workplace to discriminate against employees whose profiles could

pose a financial risk. For example, genetic technology can and has been used to

determine the capacity of a person to contract certain diseases, such as sickle-

cell anemia, which could cause many employers to hesitate in the hiring and

training of such people. In the early 1970's, the United States began a carrier

screening for sickle-cell anemia, which affects 1 in 400 African-Americans.

Many of those identified as carriers mistakenly thought they were afflicted with

this debilitating disease. Furthermore, confidentiality was often breached, and

in some cases, carriers were discriminated against and denied health insurance.

Nevertheless, genetic profiling has been beneficial in paternity suits and rape

cases, where the father or the assailant could be identified. However, despite

its growing number of utilizations, DNA profiling is extremely hazardous when

results are inaccurate or used to discriminate.

The frequency of genetic testing in criminal investigations (more than

1,000 in the U.S. since 1987) has been increasing dramatically despite the

inconclusive testing by the scientific community in many aspects of forensic

identification. A correlation between DNA patterns taken from a crime scene and

taken from the suspect has often been enough to charge a person with the offense

in spite of proof that some procedures for testing DNA are fallible by legal and

scientific standards.

The complexity of scientific evidence, especially DNA profiling, has

also caused many problems within the legal profession. It is no longer enough

for attorneys or members of the jury to merely be knowledgeable about the law.

People need to familiarize themselves with today's scientific research rather

than relying on the credentials of a scientific expert witness. Too often, jury

members become in awe of the complicated, scientific terms used in court and

take a scientist's testimony as fact. Lawyers need to increase their scientific

knowledge and keep up with ongoing research in order to competently question and

understand scientific evidence put forth.

But these do not represent the only possible downfalls of DNA profiling

in criminology. The involuntary seizure of one's blood or hair undermines the

constitutional rights guaranteed to all citizens by the Fourth Amendment

(protection from unreasonable searches and seizures). Nevertheless, many argue

that a DNA sample taken from a suspect could lead to an indictment or release of

the individual and, thus, warrants an exception from the Fourth Amendment.

Besides, one could make a plausible argument that, once held in custody, the


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