The Massachusetts State Police crime laboratory may expand the use of its DNA database to search for close relatives of suspects whose DNA is recovered from crime scenes, reports the Boston Globe. The newspaper calls it a controversial crime-fighting technique that prosecutors say would help them solve more cases but that critics say would target innocent people, many of them minorities. The possible change, which reflects a national trend, is part of a private $267,000 review prompted by the firing of the civilian database administrator, Robert E. Pino, partly for allegedly violating a ban on so-called familial searches.
Defense lawyers and civil libertarians said investigations from partial DNA matches would cast suspicion on some law-abiding citizens. “Familial DNA searches would invade the privacy of innocent people, those who just happen to be related to someone convicted of a felony, as well as the privacy of unrelated people whose genetic profiles happen to resemble that of someone in the database,” said Anne Goldbach, president of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and head of forensic services for the state public defender agency.