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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 251043 Find in a Library
Title: Understanding Familial DNA Searching: Policies, Procedures, and Potential Impact, Summary Overview
Author(s): Sara Debus-Sherrill; Michael B. Field
Corporate Author: ICF International
United States of America
Date Published: August 2017
Page Count: 23
Sponsoring Agency: ICF International
Fairfax, VA 22031
National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 2013-R2-CX-0013
Sale Source: US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
810 Seventh Street, NW
Washington, DC 20531
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Issue Overview; Legislation/Policy Description; Report (Technical Assistance)
Format: Document; Document (Online)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Since little research documents current practices and outcomes in the use of familial DNA searching (FDS) in criminal investigations, the current research begins closing this knowledge gap by conducting a multi-phase, mixed-methods study of FDS policies and practices in the United States.
Abstract: Traditionally, DNA profiling has been used to obtain exact matches between unknown genetic samples from crime scenes to those obtained from convicted offenders, arrestees, or crime-scene samples from other cases; however, the ability to identify partial matches or close associations through lower stringency searches enables the identification of potential family relationships, given the inherited nature of DNA and the fact that family members have more genetic similarities than non-related individuals. This suggests that a particular crime-scene DNA sample that does not have an exact match in the Federal DNA database Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) may show a family relationship to a person whose DNA is in CODIS. CODIS can uncover partial matches fortuitously, but it is not designed to identify familial matches. In attempting to overcome this limitation, some jurisdictions have sought separate software and genetic algorithms to identify family relationships in DNA searches. Ethical considerations have been raised regarding FDS. They have focused on privacy and family issues, such as whether law enforcement should be investigating and labeling innocent family members as suspects based solely on relatedness; e.g., in a case where there are multiple brothers being investigated based on FDA and only one is guilty. The current study provides a balanced examination of controversies and considerations from thought leaders on this issue; a national portrait of FDS policies and practices; an in-depth exploration of how it is used within States with varying philosophies and procedures regarding FDS; and a cost model on expenditures and cost savings related to FDS. 3 exhibits and 34 references
Main Term(s): Forensic sciences
Index Term(s): Ancestral DNA; DNA Typing; National Institute of Justice (NIJ); NIJ final report; Right of privacy; Suspect identification
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