by Candice Roman-Santos –
The establishment of DNA databases has been and continues to be a source of controversy. Proponents of DNA databases argue that it supports a discipline that does not rely on subjective judgments and interpretations, and expanding DNA databases will not only help to solve more crimes but also exonerate innocent people who have been wrongly convicted, ultimately reducing the need to reverse previous miscarriages of justice. Opponents of DNA databases, on the other hand, argue that there is a risk of DNA being used to the exclusion of material that might prove the innocence of the suspect. Also, the fact that DNA samples can be stored indefinitely raises concerns regarding the temptation to use those samples for new and unidentified purposes. This piece discusses the use of DNA in modern forensics, details the three largest DNA databases in the world, explains the process of obtaining a “cold hit” and the problems surrounding related probabilities and statistics that can mislead juries and courts, analyzes the problems with existing DNA database statutes in the United States (U.S.), and considers the privacy issues surrounding DNA and DNA databases.