Just the Facts, Ma’am: Removing the Drama from DNA Dragnets

June 16, 2012

Law enforcement is increasingly turning to “genetic witnesses” to solve crimes. The incorporation of genetic technologies like DNA ancestry tests and indirect molecular photofitting has drawn criticism as high-tech “racial profiling.” In cases where law enforcement has requested voluntary DNA samples to assist with criminal investigations, critics have quickly labeled the conduct “DNA dragnets.” To facilitate a constructive debate over whether and how law enforcement uses these genetic technologies, the loaded language is removed and the legal framework and scientific technologies are examined.