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On Taking DNA Samples

[The following letter was written in response to our article "Taking DNA Samples Violates Ex Post Facto Clause" in the September 1992 issue of the newsletter.]

My name is Dale Gardner. I am currently incarcerated in the State Correctional Institution; Huntingdon, PA. I am writing in response to your article on D.N.A. testing. Before I begin on my personal feedback of the article, let me explain my education background; I graduated from Stanford University earning my doctorate in biochemistry genetics. After completing my internship at Roach Biomedical Laboratory in Pennsylvania (a state contracted company of D.O.C. to research and analyze drug urine samples from prisoners), I went into private practice conducting behavior modification research. In 1990, I was arrested for manufacturing controlled substances.

While incarcerated I contracted a serious lung infection, which was neglected by medical personnel. Therefore I filed a complaint pursuant to § 1983 for lack of proper medical treatment. I represented myself, and requested a federal court to review my medical records for errors. I was granted this request. During review of those medical records, I came across what is called a karyotype chart. If you are familiar with the context of the stated article, this chart consists of the DNA "blueprint" mentioned. It looks like an 8<$E1/2> X 11 inch X-Ray, consisting of the human chromosomal pattern. Now what you might not know is there are four laboratories authorized in the United States to conduct Karyotype chart analysis, one being Roach Biomedical Laboratory in Pennsylvania, my former employer. Any Karyotype chart is marked with the medical lab's official seal in the upper right corner. After reviewing this, I requested the same court to order a reproduction of this chart. Granted. I had also studied law and criminology for some time. Now in any criminology text, it will list numerous journal cites similar to legal citations. I came across a research project endorsed by thirteen state departments of corrections (Washington, Pennsylvania included), financially backed by the RAND Corporation in New York, and authorized the research carried out by Roach Biomedical Laboratory in PA. The test date of the project was 1983, and has no conclusion date. This project, I had small knowledge of it, was in action during my internship, under Dr. ______ [name withheld at author's request], my research department head.

The research was specifically to compile technical data on the so called xyy chromosomal abnormality linking criminal behavior to D.N.A. abnormalities. I contacted this doctor, requesting a visit be planned to discuss this information. We discussed at length the research being conducted. He stated to me, "`off the record,' the information was to be originally used for confidential purposes by the parole boards, to render its decisions." After amending my original complaint to include this information, all medical records were labeled `confidential' by the institution. They are currently appealing the federal judge's decision to open the records up. Now to solidify my argument, I'm making arrangements for this doctor to testify (however, he agreed to a contract with Roach Biomedical not to discuss "any research conducted to anyone"). His contract is currently in federal court to test the legality of this. The court has possession of the contract signed by both the D.O.C. and Roach Laboratories for this project, number R.B. 698449.

I totally disagree with the judicial opinion of Jones v. Murray, 962 F.2d 302 (4 Cir. 1992), which says: "The court notes that taking of blood samples for D.N.A. analysis is not significantly different from taking prisoners' fingerprints or photo. The government has an interest in preserving a permanent identification record of convicted felons which outweigh any intrusion caused by the taking of blood samples." The reason for my disagreement is that this research is not scientifically approved in the majority of the American Medical Association Standards of Professional Research. We cannot begin to measure the extent, the parole boards, or any criminal justice agency interprets this questionable data. However, research conducted on the use of D.N.A. for identification purposes in criminal cases have been upheld, both by the legal and medical organizations.

This letter was written to you, in hopes of being published by PLN. There are many misconceptions about D.N.A. research and its role in the criminal justice system.

Dale Gardner #BI-5107
State Corr. Inst.
Drawer R
Huntingdon, PA 16652

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