DNA database plays an important role in the world, specifically the criminal and forensic world. DNA database, in this case forensic DNA database. The term DNA database refers to a collection of DNA samples and any other evidence stored as DNA profiles. DNA database could be extremely useful during criminal investigations. For example comparing a DNA sample, specifically taken from a crime scene, to a suspect’s DNA stored in a database, would determine whether the suspect is guilty or not, and it could eventually lead to the main goal of that forensic investigation.
Even though DNA database is known to be useful and partially accurate, it still has some ethical issues such as the errors made when DNA is evaluated by using data but also the consequences of having a national DNA Database. In this case, the main focus on this issue is the errors made in matching the correct suspect using forensic DNA database. A brief idea on what causes this complication is the lab experts or forensic scientists, and it could depend on their skills and techniques used to extract DNA from the samples. It is a main issue because it could cause complications during the investigation for example when a suspect is detained wrongfully because it is believed that suspect is guilty, in fact that suspect is innocent. It could affect the local residents, ethically by having a false criminal record, which could affect employment. It could also affect the government as well financially and legally, due to wrongfully convicted suspects suing the government. The focus of this investigation is to investigate why the errors are caused when lab technicians evaluate forensic DNA database.
In order to test whether DNA database is accurate, two researchers, Itiel Dror and Greg Hampikian, conducted an experiment. Both researchers had gathered the same exact DNA samples and sent out to 17 different lab experts and forensic scientists. It was hypothesised that every DNA sample would have the same outcome due to coming from the same material. However, the results proved this to be wrong because each result from each expert had a different and a remarkable outcome. This may have big impacts on investigations because the outcomes might affect innocent people or suspects. “This demonstrated that what the forensic scientist knows about the investigation may impact the interpretation of a DNA sample. Perhaps then, it is no surprise that there are now numerous of cases of lab technicians who make mistakes or argue that there was a DNA match when there was none” – Aziza Ahmed. The reliability of this fact is high because it came from an experiment performed by two lab experts.
This graph shows cases of suspects that have been wrongfully convicted were released due to the following reasons; Eyewitness Misidentification, Improper forensics, False Confessions and Informants. Improper forensics currently shows that it is 47% and falls second highest on the graph. As mentioned previously, this data relates to the issue and the impact of improper forensic techniques is really big and could affect innocent people, only due to incorrect techniques used and etc. This graph is not extremely reliable because there is no background information on when the data was collected, how and by who.
A famous case of an innocent convicted suspect might prove that DNA database might not be proper due to improper forensics. David Camm was a main suspect and was accused of murdering his wife and also his two children. According to a prosecutor or lawyer, Stan Faith, the DNA evidence that was found on a shirt left near one of the deceased children, was not in the database system therefore the only person that could match that sample was the innocent Camm. After two trials, the DNA evidence was re-evaluated and was sent to do another CODIS, a new DNA evidence was found which matched a convicted lawbreaker, known to attack women, named Charles Boney. “Boney’s DNA was in the system all along.. There must’ve been some misunderstanding on the part of the State Police about what was wanted”. It was concluded that the prosecutor Faith, had either lied about the DNA being evaluated or the DNA was evaluated improperly by the forensic lab experts, causing a controversy with an innocent suspect which led him to being convicted due to improper DNA database evaluation. This fact is reliable because it comes from a police report, which is from the government.
The aim of this investigation was to understand why there are such errors are made when evaluating DNA in the database. There have been some cases where innocent suspects have been imprisoned due to false or incorrect DNA analysis. According to a few facts or evidence such as the experiment, which was conducted to see whether all results will be the same, it was concluded that every result was different meaning there will be problems when It comes to criminal investigations. The graph is another evidence that shows how many false imprisonments have been made due to improper forensic and that supports the argument that it could be the lab technician’s fault conducting the analysis. In order to improve or even solve the problem, improvement in technology would help out the case massively. Due to the many mistakes caused by lab experts or forensic scientists, if a new feature is created such as robot or a computer specialised in analysing DNA data, that would cause less errors. This way people’s lives and ethics are not ruined by the media that would cause problems In for example finding jobs, etc. It is likely for there to be a solution in the future, because technology improves every day and it would not take as much time during this time rather than 50 years ago.