Identifying Victims Using DNA

I came across the attached information on Identifying victims through DNA, whilst reading up on the latest developments in the USA insofar as it relates to DNA testing for criminal intelligence. This booklet explains very simply the process of identifying remains using DNA analysis and gives an overview of the process so that surviving family and friends will understand what DNA analysis can and cannot do, describes the sources of DNA that forensic scientists might use, and explains the differences between nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.

For further reading, have a look at the USA’s national DNA website which they callĀ  ‘The DNA Initiative’ and which provides “funding, training and assistance to ensure that forensic DNA reaches its full potential to solve crimes, protect the innocent and identify missing persons.”

Imagine if we had a government that not only recognised that criminal justice could be advanced through DNA technology, but actually offered Grant funding for…

  • Forensic backlog reduction
  • Convicted offender/arrestee backlog reduction
  • Research and development
  • Solving cold cases
  • Post-conviction testing
  • Training development and delivery
  • Identifying missing persons
  • DNA unit efficiency

Imagine further that we had a national DNA website, accessible by all, which advised us, quite openly on the status and statistics in respect of

  • Profiles in the database
  • DNA crime labs
  • Backlog of samples
  • Numbers of unidentified dead
  • Statistics behind a match

Perhaps this is not too far fetched…. in fighting for legislation, we should also consider fighting for the right to know the status of our National DNA Database insofar as it relates to the resolution of crime, the status of our forensic labs and the statistics behind matches. We do not have a shortage of web developers in this country for the job, and putting together a website for this purpose would be relatively easy. I have noted that most countries with National DNA Databases make this information freely available to their citizens, and I would be interested to know why we shouldn’t be able to share in the same type of information once our DNA legislation has been promulgated. This will certainly be on our agenda when requests for submissions commenting on the Bill are made. What do you think?

Vanessa Lynch

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