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Conviction Rates Low After DNA Match

For years now, the U.S. government and individual states have been pushing for wider DNA testing and bigger databases to make matches with crime scene evidence. The Bush administration proposed to spend $1 billion to expand testing. The question now is how effective is DNA testing in obtaining convictions?

A report from Virginias Department of Forensic Science has found its not very effective at all.

The FBI maintains a system of state and federal computers, known as the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), to compare the genetic profiles of known offenders to DNA found in blood, semen, and other biological material found at crime scenes. CODIS has the DNA profiles of 2.7 million offenders, scoring nearly 28,000 matches nationwide since 1982.

Virginia, New York, and Florida have each scored over 3,000 matches between crime-scene DNA and profiles in the states databases. Since 1988, Virginia has collected about 246,000 DNA samples on file.

Of those samples, Virginia had 2,744 cases that matched a specific offender in the states database. In 278 other cases, a match was made to an out-of-state offender or an unsolved crime.

Of the in-state matches, only 597-less than 22%-led to convictions by trial or plea. 1,760 cases still remain pending investigation. Interestingly, 424 cases had no charges pressed by prosecutors for reasons varying from evidence problems to victims being reluctant to testify or unable to be found.

That begs the question is DNA testing a cost-effective crime fighting tool or just another governmental invasion of privacy?

Source: USA Today.

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