Free «Communication and Ethical Issues» Essay
The problems related to the DNA collection tend to become more urgent nowadays. The reason is that the use of these technologies is associated with a fewer amount of time and costs than before. At the same time, the large-scale usage of DNA investigations poses new legal and ethical challenges. In particular, whether collecting the suspect’s DNA should be allowed as an appropriate way for investigating serious crimes. The present paper analyzes various perspectives presented in the article “Cold Case Collections: Eager to Close Investigations, Police Get Creative in Collecting Suspects' DNA” (2007) by C. Thompson.
The author provides several examples when the use of DNA methods has enabled the identification the criminals in relation to crimes committed long ago. In some cases, such methods have also proved the innocence of various suspects. Although some evident positive consequences of such practices exist, the author provides the position of the Professor Elizabeth Joh who is highly critical of the observed tendency (Thompson, 2007). The reason is that there are no explicit restrictions on the police actions and this creates the possibility for frequent privacy violations.
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Therefore, it seems that the collection of DNA without consent may be considered as a violation of people’s expectation of privacy. Joh states that it is incorrect to use the analogy of trash while applying it to DNA. People do not provide their explicit or implicit consent for investigating their privacy information by the police or other third parties (Thompson, 2007). Thus, this issue should be elaborated by legal experts, and precise criteria for collecting DNA under different conditions and scenarios should be established. In any case, the police should not collect privacy information from all people without their consent. Current legal practices are such that DNA samples can be taken from people convicted of serious crimes (Kim & Katsanis, 2013). However, some legal and ethical challenges in this sphere still exist.
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The specific time frame of keeping one’s DNA on file after an arrest or conviction is not specified. Therefore, the procedures may be different in various states. Moreover, many DNA samples may be used for a prolonged period of time for investigating the whole variety of crimes. On the one hand, it enables applying the person’s DNA to various serious crimes and obtaining strong evidence regarding various suspects (Parven, 2013). On the other hand, it violates people’s privacy rights and may lead to the imposition of total control over the population; and it is inadmissible in any democratic society.
The existing facts demonstrate that law enforcement agencies may use a person’s DNA for examining his/her potential participation in various crimes. The cases of Sanchez and Chatt indicate how the police can utilize DNA information for verifying its various hypotheses regarding the involvement of these individuals in committing different crimes (Thompson, 2007). However, the legitimacy of using such methods for unrelated crimes is controversial. Although it is necessary to search for additional methods of collecting evidence, they should not contradict the basic legal principles (Parven, 2013). The entire flow of arguments should be provided to determine the defendant’s guilt, intent etc. Moreover, the over-reliance on DNA collection creates incorrect incentives for law enforcement agencies regarding the creation of DNA databases including all social members even if it involves privacy violations.
To summarize, the problem of using DNA collection methods in the operations of law enforcement agencies is highly complicated. Although it allows obtaining more reliable data and evidence, it also creates growing threats for citizens’ privacy. Therefore, this issue should be addressed in detail. Strict limits regarding the use of such methods should be established.