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The Double-Helix Double-Edged Sword: Comparing DNA Retention Policies of the United States and the United Kingdom

Posted by on Thursday, June 28, 2012 in Notes, Vol. 44 No. 3, Volume 44, Volumes.

Forensic scientists have used DNA profiling technologies to link suspects to crimes since Alec Jeffreys first proposed the idea in the 1970s.  Recognizing the potential for using DNA databases to solve crimes and to prevent future crimes, England and Wales attempted to greatly expand its DNA database by allowing for the collection and indefinite retention of DNA profiles from arrestees. The European Court of Human Rights, however, issued a ruling in 2008 in the case of S. & Marper v. United Kingdom, advising the United Kingdom to restrict use of DNA profiles from arrestees and to establish time frames for removal of this information from databases.  Conversely, in the United States, federal and state legislation have become increasingly expansive and many states and the federal government now allow for collection of DNA samples from arrestees.  This Note considers the evolving United States laws governing DNA databases in light of the Marper decision and proposes placing limits on the ability of law enforcement to use and retain DNA profiles from arrestees.

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