The development of DNA technology has helped police officers and prosecutors in the fight against violent crime; using DNA evidence, prosecutors are often able to conclusively establish the guilt of a defendant.
Like fingerprint evidence, DNA evidence offers prosecutors an important new tool in the identification and apprehension of violent criminals, particularly in sexual assault cases. At the same time, DNA evidence can be used to exonerate the innocent. By highlighting the importance and utility of DNA evidence, the report presents challenges to the scientific and criminal justice communities. These challenges involve maintaining high standards for collecting and preserving DNA evidence, ensuring that DNA testing methodologies meet rigorous scientific criteria for reliability and accuracy, and increasing the proficiency and credibility of forensic scientists so their results and testimony are of the highest caliber and can withstand exacting scrutiny. Meeting these challenges requires continued support for research that advances the field of forensic science. Commentaries and profiles of DNA exculpatory cases are presented to illustrate the power and potential of DNA evidence. Policy implications of DNA testing and use as evidence are discussed. Notes and exhibits
Date Published: June 1, 1996