by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted January 9, 2008 in DNA Testing, DNA and the Law
What is fair in love and war? When it comes to crime, does anything go as long as the perpetrator is caught? DNAWitness, a DNA test for race based on technology from DNAPrint Genomics, which also sells AncestryByDNA*, is considered by some law enforcement officials to be unfair and akin to racial profiling.
Unlike AncestryByDNA, which is used by genetic genealogists looking to learn more about the percent distribution of their racial ancestry, DNAWitness is used by law enforcement to narrow the pool of suspects or victims of crime. DNAWitness can determine which of four main continental groups an individual may belong to: European, East Asian, Native American, and Sub-Sahara African. And according to Wired, DNAWitness has been used in approximately 200 criminal investigations. While it has been useful, its reach has been limited because of the cost ($1,000) and controversy surrounding race and crime.
Troy Duster, former president of the American Sociological Association:
Once we start talking about predicting racial background from genetics, it’s not much of a leap to talking about how people perform based on their DNA â€” why they committed that rape or stole that car or scored higher on that IQ test.
From the comments in response to the Wired article, it’s clear that race (as always) is a hot button subject especially as it relates to DNA.
Excuse me, but how the heck is this “racial profiling”? This is a certain statement that the person who left DNA at a crime scene was of a particular ethnic background. That’s looking at facts. Racial profiling is making an unfounded, unsupported assumption about how someone will act (or has acted) based on race. Big difference there.
On the other hand, maybe this would be a good argument to get rid of security cameras. “Well, they’ve caught a black guy in the process of committing a crime. Clearly this is a racial issue, and we should stop using them.”
And sueno said,
Of course this technology is great to catch killers but will its long term effects be worth the ethical problems it raises and the abuse of raw data. The problem with this technology is there will be people who think they aren’t racist who will see the data of crime statistics and if they show one race being disproportionately criminal they will assume genetics/race is the reason while ignoring environmental factors and income levels, etc. Another problem is the government collecting DNA samples. It starts with criminals and then will branch out into all children in public school and then if you want to get a drivers license. If you don’t see the slippery slope there I suggest you read or watch some sci-fi (Brave New World).
Would you support the use of DNA testing to identify the race of a crime suspect?
*NB: The company I work for, DNA Direct, is a partner of DNAPrint.
Free Maternal DNA Ancestry Test for Mother’s Day...
DNA Direct Introduces Ancestry & Ethnicity and Paternity Testing...
Joining DNA Direct...
DNA Testing in the Czech Republic...
DNA Video: DNA and Your Roots by Gina Paige...
Larry David’s DNA Test...
Eye on DNA Headlines for 18 October 2007...
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.
Search Eye on DNA
- Genetic Genealogy on Faces of America
- DNA Network Tweet Cloud
- Genetics = Real Science
- Larry David’s DNA Test
- Lopez Tonight First Late-Night Show to Offer DNA Testing
- American Genes Don’t Exist
- Knowledge about Genetic Risk is Power or is it Fear?
- Murderer Gets Reduced Sentence Because His Genes Made Him Do It
- Video: Knome’s Ari Kiirikki Speaks with Medgadget
- DNA Toys: Ben 10 and Digimon Digivice
- 100 Facts About DNA
- Salaries for Jobs in Genetics
- How To Determine Paternity Without A DNA Test
- Fetal Gender DNA Tests Answer Common Pregnancy Question...Or Not
- What does DNA mean to you?
- Eye on DNA Interview: Dr. Tzung-Fu Hsieh of RedTracer DNA Test for the Red Hair Gene, MC1R
- Books About DNA: The Crime of Reason by Robert B. Laughlin
- Genetically Modified Organisms Bring in the Cash
- Navigenics Introduces Physician Portal and Annual Insight Service
- People Who’ve Had Their Genomes Sequenced
09/29/2009 07:03 am
- Larry David’s DNA Test
11/17/2009 02:52 am
- 23andMe DNA Tests for $399, Down From $999
09/10/2008 04:33 am
- Crazy Genetic Marketing Ideas
07/05/2008 09:14 pm
- Parenting Children Using Genetic Tests
05/18/2009 02:09 am
- Business of DNA
- DNA @ Google Answers
- DNA and Disease
- DNA and Genealogy
- DNA and the Law
- DNA Around the World
- DNA Fun
- DNA in General
- DNA Inventions and Gadgets
- DNA Lab Talk
- DNA Podcasts and Videos
- DNA Quotes and Excerpts
- DNA Testing
- Gene Therapy
- Genetic Engineering
- Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms
- Jobs Involving DNA
- Personalities with DNA
- Polls About DNA
- January 2010
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008
- August 2008
- July 2008
- June 2008
- May 2008
- April 2008
- March 2008
- February 2008
- January 2008
- December 2007
- November 2007
- October 2007
- September 2007
- August 2007
- July 2007
- June 2007
- May 2007
- April 2007
- Mary Meets Dolly
- Women’s Bioethics Blog
- Tangled Bank
- Biotech Blog
- Autism Vox
- Sciencebase Science Blog
- The Loom
- Anxiety, Addiction and Depression Treatments