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DNA dilemma

"DNA dilemma" Continued...

Issue: "Ethiopia's new flower," May 31, 2008

While the crimes solved and hopefully prevented are, to many, justification enough for increased DNA sampling, how far is too far? In the U.K., where police can take DNA samples for all arrests, 1 in 20 residents is included in the nation's DNA database, and one quarter of all new database entries are from children under 18 years of age, including several dozen under age 10. Innocent arrestees can have their profiles removed from the database "only in exceptional circumstances" and must petition their local police force to do so. Before 2001 police were required to destroy samples from individuals who were acquitted or not charged. "That was a little bit alarming to me, to see children as young as 10, 11, 12, being in this database," said Lahl. "What do we think about this as a public?"

Crouch, Indiana's CODIS administrator, said she believes there is a growing need for monitoring database expansion in the United States. "If you have arrestees [added], how many more hits do you get? I don't know. It's all based on recidivism." With expansion of the nation's DNA database, there are diminishing returns and privacy issues raised, she said, but at what point is more information too much? On that, Crouch said, "I change my mind a lot."

Daniel James Devine
Daniel James Devine

Daniel is a reporter for WORLD who covers science, technology, and other topics in the Midwest from his home base in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.

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