The National Institute of Justice reports on the study it funded, previously reported by Crime & Justice News, showing that collecting biological evidence at burglary scenes works. NIJ says that when DNA was added to traditional property crime investigations, more than twice as many suspects were identified, and twice as many suspects were arrested. More than twice as many cases were accepted for prosecution. The experiment, in Orange County, Ca.; Los Angeles; Denver; Phoenix; and Topeka, found that suspects identified by DNA had at least twice as many prior felony arrests and convictions as those identified through traditional burglary investigation.
NIJ says the DNA Field Experiment has “the potential to turn a significant component of our criminal justice system on its head. The implications are that dramatic.” Only 12 percent of the 2,183,746 burglaries reported to the police in 2006 were solved. NIJ asks, “How will our nation’s crime laboratories process the increase in evidence? Are we willing to hire more prosecutors and public defenders to handle an increased volume of cases? How can we ensure that using DNA to solve burglaries will not pull investigators away from other criminal investigations? If we solve the police and crime lab issues, do we need to revisit sentencing guidelines – or are we ready to build more jails and prisons to handle an influx of property crime offenders? “There is a criminal justice revolution coming,” said John Roman of the the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center. “We need to have these discussions now, so we don’t have to have them on the run.”