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Forensic DNA Analysis: Issues

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 1991
This report discusses the privacy and confidentiality issues raised by DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) testing for identification purposes.

Part One, "DNA Testing Methods and Use," describes the underlying science associated with forensic DNA testing. It reviews methodologies for identifying the distinctive patterns found in a person's genetic material and discusses two major functions of DNA testing: paternity determination and suspect identification. This section also outlines some of the difficulties and limitations confronting justice agencies interested in establishing DNA testing capabilities. Part Two, "Issues Regarding DNA Testing," addresses four topics in DNA testing: invasiveness, reliability, establishment and use of data banks, and dissemination of DNA test data. The discussion also considers issues raised when bodily fluids or tissue are taken from a person for identification or to build a data bank. It discusses developments in the Federal and State courts as well as in State legislatures, followed by an examination of the consistency of DNA testing with prevailing practices. Part Two also considers law enforcement's use of DNA databanks and the relevance of fingerprint databank case law and the maintenance of nonarrestee databanks. The report concludes that DNA testing has significant potential for use in a law enforcement setting, but testing must be constrained by due process and privacy considerations. 1 figure and 143 footnotes

Date Published: June 1, 1991