States Checking DNA Databases Against Unrelated Crimes


A Brooklyn cab driver was acquitted of rape in 1997, but his DNA was used to implicate him in an unrelated sexual assault four years later despite his protests that the match violated his privacy, says USA Today. Local prosecutors and crime labs are using more such “suspect” or “linkage” databases. Critics of the practice include the American Civil Liberties Union and privacy advocates. Such databases are used in New York, Florida, California, Missouri, and Illinois. Virginia started a smaller pilot program using autopsies.

Crime labs in New York have matched DNA taken from at least 2,200 crime suspects or individuals of interest to more than four dozen unrelated crimes committed later. In Illinois, a proposed law would allow police to take DNA from autopsies performed on crime victims and those whose deaths were unexplained and compare it to unsolved crimes. The premise is that people who die violent deaths may have committed crimes themselves. In Virginia two years ago, DNA profiles from 200 autopsies were compared with DNA from convicted offenders and unsolved cases on the state’s database. The autopsy database did not score any matches.


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