This report describes advances in DNA analysis and illustrates how DNA databases help solve and link crimes.
DNA analysis has emerged as one of the most important crime-fighting tools of the 21st century. It has solved some of the Nation’s most notorious and brutal crimes and has linked different crimes to the same perpetrator that may never have been linked absent DNA analysis. Advancements in DNA technology are explored, followed by a description of how DNA databases aid criminal investigations. DNA databases store large amounts of DNA samples from convicted offenders and from crime scenes. The computers constantly search through its files for matches, linking perpetrators to crimes. The large influx of DNA evidence requiring laboratory analysis has caused a backlog of cases waiting to be analyzed. The extent and reasons for this backlog are discussed and include the growing need for DNA analysis among law enforcement and criminal justice communities and a lack of trained staff and resources to perform DNA analysis. President Bush’s 5-year, $1 billion DNA initiative is designed to eliminate the DNA backlog and improve crime laboratory capacity for all forensic analysis techniques. Endnotes