Topic of interest
DNA is one of the areas in biology that is quite promising. It has been postulated that DNA could provide solution for most mysteries of life especially in genetic engineering, court evidence and many other areas. DNA forms the bases of life and it could be used to solve many issues in life as well. It is a nucleic acid which contains the main genetic material or instructions which forms the base for development and functioning of living organisms. It is a long term store of information which means it does not change with age, and it is on this base that it is used for forensic information. One of the most interesting areas in study of DNA is how it has been used as evidence in crime. In the recent, DNA evidence has been used to exonerate people who were wrongly convicted and at the same time bring criminal behind bars who had been running free. Most criminal justice organizations like FBI and others are increasingly relying on DNA evidence to prosecute suspects in law courts. DNA is slowly replacing earlier forensic evidences like fingerprints to convict criminals and eliminate persons as suspects. This is the issue I would like to know about DNA. I want to know how DNA is used to support evidence in court, the extent to which it has been applied in courts, and the future of DNA in forensics.
Organization and summarizing materials
The book by Enger, Ross, and Bailey (2008) provides the basic understanding of biology. Although the book does not expound much on the extent to which DNA has been used in courts, it provides basic understanding of cell DNA and how it can be applied to give evidence in courts. From the information presented in the book, DNA use in court evidence mainly involves matching DNA sequence of samples collected in crime scene to that of the suspect. DNA is a nucleic acid which contains the main genetic material or instructions which forms the base for development and functioning of living organisms. It is a long term store of information which means it does not change with age, and it is on this base that it is used for forensic information. This means that any cell in the body, whether collected from semen, blood, hair, saliva, and others contain DNA materials and are mainly used in DNA analysis. First, DNA molecule from the suspect is dissembled. Then selected segments are isolated and measured. The actual evidence is produced by comparing the suspect’s DNA profile with that derived from the sample, mainly looking for physical evidence if the two matches. If there is match, there is a statistical analysis that proves whether the DNA sample comes from the actual suspect or another suspect profile. The statistical results are then used by the juries to determine whether the suspect actually committed the crime or not.
Another important source for the study is justice.gov (2010). This website article gives a detailed account of how DNA has evolved from the four corners of laboratories to court rooms. Compatibility of DNA material between samples like blood, semen, saliva, hair, and others found on crime scene with that of suspects has made it possible to use it as court evidence. This source outlines the evolution of DNA and how it has come to be accepted in courts. It highlights the advantages that have been realized from the use if DNA evidence the basic structure that is required to ensure that prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges understands how DNA can be used to support criminal evidence.
Another important source for the study was an article presented by pbs.org which was excerpted from a 1996 National Institution of Justice study on Convicted by juries, Exonerated by science. In this article, pbs.org traces how DNA has been replacing the fingerprint technology in presenting evidence in court. This article outlines the how forensic DNA is exonerate wrongful convicted crimes. The article provides a historical view of how DNA came to be accepted in courts after series of study showed that it could provide concrete evidence against perpetrators of crime. In addition, this article also gives a list of states which have admitted use of DNA technology to give evidence in courts.
In his article on use and misuse of DNA, Haesler (2008) gives a concrete account of science and moral issues pertaining to forensic DNA. In this article Haesler (2008) starts with giving the scientific bases of use of DNA evidence in court. He gives account of how DNA is extracted and then used as court of evidence. However, he also gives a detail account of moral issue pertaining to use of DNA in courts. He shows how the technology can actually be misused arising from errors while extracting DNA evidence due to failure to follow the given scientific procedures or bias in the process.
Gibson (2010) gives an overview of challenges that are facing Use of DNA in the court. He gives account of how DNA has been challenged in New South Wales. Gibson takes the reader through new issues that are emerging in use of forensic evidence including the court challenges that have been filed challenging use of DNA evidence. He shows how growing fears about privacy implications has affected use of DNA evidence in New South Wales courts.
Most valid source
All these resources give information on use of DNA evidence. However, the extent and depth of information in the sources varies. Among all these sources, the journal article Haesler (2008) gives more detailed information about use of DNA in courts. It gives a historical account of forensic DNA, how it has evolved over the years and its current status. Most important it gives a scientific account of DNA technology and its use in courts. This includes the process of extracting DNA and this process can go wrong or how the weakness of the procedure of extracting DNA can be misused. The strength of this source comes from the way the author has presented facts about forensic DNA. He has taken time to give a conclusive account of how DNA evidence has become important in courts and takes time to make the reader understand what DNA evidence is, how it has come to be accepted in courts, and how it the whole process takes place. In addition the author clearly describes the whole process of extraction of DNA and how this process can be misused. Unlike other sources, I find this source more detailed and simple such that it can be understood by laymen who do not have detailed knowledge about forensic biology.
From the sources, it is evident that DNA has become important in forensic evidence. It has revolutionized evidence presented in courts of laws. It has complemented other types of evidence like finger printing which are all based on human biology. Forensic DNA became popular in the 1990s when it was used to exonerate individuals who had been convicted of among other crimes, rape. Since the first case to use DNA, People v. Castro, where a blood stain from Castro’s watch was extracted and taken through laboratory process to show that the DNA matched with that of victims, DNA evidence has since then been accepted in courts and the identification process have also been accepted by scientific community and the courts (pbs.org). According to justive.gov (2010) DNA evidence in courts has been important since it has eliminated backlog of cases that have taken years due to lack of concrete evidence to prosecute victims. However, this has also become a major problem since there is also a backlog of DNA samples which are waiting to be analyzed. According to Gibson (2010) there are major challenges that are emerging in the use of DNA as court evidence. The use of DNA evidence has been challenged in courts and court rejection of DNA evidence is poses threat to the future state of acceptance of DNA. He argues that more than 42,750 DNA samples that are waiting to be used in NSW are at risk if courts reject use of DNA as evidence in courts. According to Haesler (2008) DNA evidence in courts will be the next revolution in presentation of court evidence. However, he asserts there must be strategies to seal the loopholes that can be exploited in the process to give wrong evidence or introduce bias in DNA analysis. The information about use of DNA in court is important to be as a patient, consumer or a voter. It show that DNA can provide important evidence in courts which means if I become a victim of crime or a part of the crime scene, I should not destroy any biological material like blood, semen, or any other specimen that can be analyzed and give evidence in courts.