DNA Profiling
Genetic engineering has developed and blossomed at a frightening rate in the
last decade. Originating as merely an area of interest for scientists, genetic
engineering has now become an area of which all people should be somewhat
knowledgeable. DNA profiling has many uses, both positive and negative, in our
society. Aside from its usefulness in many legal investigations, DNA profiling
can be used in the workplace to discriminate against employees whose profiles
could pose a financial risk. For example, genetic technology can and has been
used to determine the capacity of a person to contract certain diseases, such as
sickle-cell anemia, which could cause many employers to hesitate in the hiring
and training of such people. In the early 1970\'s, the United States began a
carrier screening for sickle-cell anemia, which affects 1 in 400

African-Americans. Many of those identified as carriers mistakenly thought they
were afflicted with this debilitating disease. Furthermore, confidentiality was
often breached, and in some cases, carriers were discriminated against and
denied health insurance. Nevertheless, genetic profiling has been beneficial in
paternity suits and rape cases, where the father or the assailant could be
identified. However, despite its growing number of utilizations, DNA profiling
is extremely hazardous when results are inaccurate or used to discriminate. The
frequency of genetic testing in criminal investigations (more than 1,000 in the

U.S. since 1987) has been increasing dramatically despite the inconclusive
testing by the scientific community in many aspects of forensic identification.

A correlation between DNA patterns taken from a crime scene and taken from the
suspect has often been enough to charge a person with the offense in spite of
proof that some procedures for testing DNA are fallible by legal and scientific
standards. The complexity of scientific evidence, especially DNA profiling, has
also caused many problems within the legal profession. It is no longer enough
for attorneys or members of the jury to merely be knowledgeable about the law.

People need to familiarize themselves with today\'s scientific research rather
than relying on the credentials of a scientific expert witness. Too often, jury
members become in awe of the complicated, scientific terms used in court and
take a scientist\'s testimony as fact. Lawyers need to increase their scientific
knowledge and keep up with ongoing research in order to competently question and
understand scientific evidence put forth. But these do not represent the only
possible downfalls of DNA profiling in criminology. The involuntary seizure of
one\'s blood or hair undermines the constitutional rights guaranteed to all
citizens by the Fourth Amendment (protection from unreasonable searches and
seizures). Nevertheless, many argue that a DNA sample taken from a suspect could
lead to an indictment or release of the individual and, thus, warrants an
exception from the Fourth Amendment. Besides, one could make a plausible
argument that, once held in custody, the seizure of a person\'s strand of hair
does not violate a suspect\'s Fourth Amendment rights or rights of privacy
because the hair is visible. However, the use of DNA profiling does not end in
criminal investigations. DNA testing has ventured out of the courtroom in an
effort to show a genetic link between race and violent tendencies. If
successful, this link will do nothing but justify prejudice attitudes toward
minorities, particularly the black race. Furthermore, such biological approaches
towards criminality do not take into account sociological factors, such as
poverty, and would inevitably lead to the practice of controlling minority
children with the use of therapeutic drugs or worse. For this and other reasons,
courts of all levels must implement harsher scrutiny in the area of genetic
profiling and its uses. There is also a current effort to create a national
database of DNA, much like the existing database of fingerprints. Supposedly,
the use of numerical codes will allow huge databases to search for a match of a
individual DNA band. However, these matches are not 100 percent. This
inconclusive correlation between DNA patterns has led to a heated debate which
has culminated in federal court with Daubert vs. Merrel Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc.

The ruling in the Daubert case said that the acceptance by the scientific
community is not enough by itself to allow certain scientific techniques into
court as evidence, especially given the reality that a suspects entire future
could hang in the balance of a scientific finding. Many people have argued that
the use of a national DNA database infringes on the individuals constitutional
rights to privacy. However, law officials have claimed that the advantages this
database presents for society supercede the individual\'s rights. This dilemma
can easily be associated to the "social contract" presented by Thomas

Hobbes. In this contract, Hobbes believed