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Forensic psychology can be described as the intersection that exist between psychology and the justice system. In many cases, it often involves the fundamental legal principles and in particular it deals with expert witness testimony. Forensic psychologist are capable of DNA profiling which is a technique that is used and employed by forensic scientists in a bid to assist when it comes to the identification of individuals with their respective DNA profiles. Psychology has interacted with forensic science in order to be able to produce such as discipline.
DNA profiling has grown in its importance over the years and currently it is one of the most credible evidence that exist in courts today. It can be used to indict somebody or even exonerate a person. Since the year 1990, there have been a lot of persons that have been sentenced because of DNA evidence. Although there are some admissibility issues regarding it use, it is still considered the most reliable method of determining certain cases such as rape and even murder. This article will review literature that is concerned with forensic psychology and DNA analysis and it applicability in the court settings.
(Micah A. Luftig, 2001) Presents a discussion on the fundamental principles of DNA technology as it often applies to several forensic settings. DNA is an organic polymer that is found within several cells of every organism. Kary Mullis was able to develop a technique that has changed the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). The PCR can be described as a method that allows the cell’s normal machinery and it replicates DNA in order to amplify the DNA within the sample and it contains a little as one nano gram of DNA.
This sensitivity often gives PCR a major advantage over other techniques. The legal power of forensic DNA profiling is often compelling. These techniques cannot be able to prove that a person that has committed a particular crime. However, the DNA evidence can prove whether or not the person was there and left DNA evidence. (Micah A. Luftig, 2001) Argues that DNA evidence can be able to overturn previous serologically, and it based on guilty verdicts because of the existing serologically that is based on guilty verdicts based on a higher discriminatory power. (Ian Freckelton, 1990) argues that Forensic scientists as well as crime investigators have long dreamed of being able to identify body fluids and blood with certainty.
The DNA profiling gives a greater degree of accuracy as compared to fingerprinting suspects. The DNA profiling is important as it allows one to examine the biological material that exists at a fundamental level using the DNA molecule. This molecule is often found in each and every living cell within the body and it is able to carry with it genetic information that makes one individual separate as well as distinct from each and everybody. The DNA profiling process often involves the extraction of DNA from the specimen such as blood, tissue and chemically dividing the DNA into small fragments.
It is of the importance to understand that naturally occurring variations in the DNA molecule from one man to another, and this sequence forms variations in the DNA molecules. Therefore, an individual can be able to be identified by their DNA strands that exists in the different pesos and it often differs in their percentage of a result certainty. (Ian Freckelton, 1990)states that DNA profiling evidence as long as it is developed using pain stakingly adhered to and DNA profiling evidence and it can be able to be reliable and used in court settings.
(Lisa Kreeger, 2003) states that DNA has over the years become and invaluable instrument that has been when it comes to the search for justice. DNA evidence has often play a significant role when it comes throughout the life of criminal case and this stems from the initiation of the criminal investigation to the post-conviction confirmation of the truth. Kreeger (2003) argues that the end users of the DNA evidence must always be in the know how, in order to better understand both the science and technology that exists in the search for DNA. The prosecutors needs to understand the application of science, math, trial issues as well as potential defense challenges that they might face when it comes to DNA cases.
The use of forensic psychology play a great detail when it comes to the establishing of DNA strands in the specific areas. When DNA is sampled and then consequently analyzed, the results are often referred to as profiles. The samples can often come from either a crime scene or a person; and this is analyzed when one produces either an evidence profile or a suspect which is referred to as a reference profile. The negative and absence of profile is often found amongst different others, and it is important distinction to make. In the forensic identification of a certain offender, the analyst might be able to discuss probabilities. In most cases, the offender’s profile is not the only of its kind which exist in existence therefore, probabilities are the one that are used.
This concept is also discussed by (Peter Gill, 2001) who argues that DNA profiling in forensic science have over the years involved in an important technique that often solves both major as well as minor crimes. Since the introduction of DNA profiling in the late 1980’s, the technique has revolutionized the way in which forensic science laboratories work. The evolution of the DNA profiling often creates a dramatic over the past decade, in particular the discovery of PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) has opened up new possibilities and this includes an analysis of even small crime-stains which was not amenable to the original methods.
New techniques have been able to create faster methods of analysis, and this has corresponded benefits of several reduced costs. Inevitably the use of DNA profiling has become widespread today and forensic psychologists have exploited the use of DNA in court setting in order to prove a person either guilty or innocent.(John Roman, 2012) argues that forensic evidence, especially the use of fingerprints has been used for a long time in order to aid law enforcement investigations. It is only in the past decade that there has been the use of DNA testing in a bid to either exonerate or eliminate suspects and those persons that are convicted in serious crimes.
According to him, DNA evidence can be described as being individualizing because it often has the power to link a person to a different incident. Fingerprints had a downside because the probability of them being questioned in a crime scene, however, when it comes to DNA the crime scene matches can be able to be calculated. In the past, the investigation of several serious crimes did not use DNA and consequently it was possible to for one to have been wrongly convicted. Therefore, with the use of DNA evidence, those persons that in the past were wrongfully convicted can be able to be proven innocent.
There is a need to understand that through the use of DNA one can be able to reverse those old files and therefore, persons that were wrongly accused can be able to have a go at justice again. (Project, 2009) gives a list of DNA exonerations through February 2009 where there was invalidated and improper use of forensic science that contributed to underlying wrongful conviction. In fact, out of the first 225 wrongful convictions that were overturned by DNA testing and others were invalidated through improper forensic science. It is of the essence to note that the mind of analysts are a key role in whether or not a DNA test is done in a rightful way or not.
The table by Innocent project (2009) argues that DNA evidence has been of crucial importance in ensuring that the justice remains fair and just to person. The Innocent project goes further ahead to include specific quotations from trial transcripts as well as other official sources that are available. In fact, in many cases, the additional bases for the determination of the cases are also involved. The use of DNA was integral in ensuring that these people that were ruled out as being the persons that committed the crimes. There were persons that were ruled out on things such as incorrect hair analysis, incorrect serology as well as other factors that relate to DNA testing.
The innocent project emphasizes that there is an importance to ensure that the DNA tests are done correctly in order to avoid mistakes. Further, the Innocent project (2009) makes a recommendation that there is a need to seek second opinion in terms of the DNA in order to ensure greater accuracy. (James, 2012) presents several guidelines that exist on the basis of current national quality assurance standards and it urges the creation of several national DNA databases.
The federal law authorizes the FBI to be able to operate as well as maintain a national DNA database where the profiles that are generated from different samples are often collected from people under several applicable legal authority and samples which are collected at crime scenes and can be compared in a bid to generate leads when it comes to several criminal investigations. Forensic psychology is an important aspect when it comes to DNA testing as the persons can be able to stand in the court cases as expert witnesses in a bid to explain DNA results and give the mind state of the criminal in order for the court to better understand the circumstances in which a certain crime occurred.
The article argues that there is a need to ensure to create a national accreditation standard in the different forensic laboratories in the country in a bid to ensure that those mistakes that were found in Innocent Project (2009) are dealt with accordingly. This will increase the just nature of the United States Justice system and it will promote both efficiency and transparency. James (2012) goes ahead and provides an overview of how DNA is used in investigative crimes, the role of the forensic scientists which also include forensic psychologists and why the statutory laws that currently exists in relation to the collection of DNA samples. (Roewer, 2013) presents a case that DNA fingerprint has been one of the great discoveries that occurred in the 19th century.
This is because it has been able to completely revolutionize the forensic investigations. He continues further by stating that there has been progress when it has come to Forensic DNA analysis which have consequently help the justice system to convict criminals, exonerate the persons that have been wrongfully accused as well as properly and clearly identify the victims of disaster, war and crime. The development of DNA fingerprinting has gone a long mile until it was standardized for court use. DNA fingerprinting has especially been important as it has led to the conviction of thousands of criminals that have been suspected and convicted.
Further, it has also led to the exoneration of persons that were wrongfully suspected as well as convicted. (Roewer, 2013) states that genetic fingerprinting could not be able to reduce the criminal rate but its profiling has added what can be described as hard evidence that strengthens the credibility that exists in the legal system. (Mark Dale, 2006) argues in his article DNA Forensics: Expanding uses and information sharing that the value of DNA in different verifying identities, and it excluding suspects and it often involves the solving of crimes. In fact, it has been particularly important to those crimes that have gone unresolved for several years.
He argues that DNA has been able to expand the broad justice community when it comes to the evolution of DNA identification and this has helped expand the use of this system. (Dale, 2006) examines the history of DNA use by forensic investigators, and it considers the economics of DNA use and it often relates to public safety and several important review privacy concerns that often relate to the release of an individual’s genetic information. He goes on to further explore the issues that are associated with the coupling of criminal history information with DNA data it often recommends that there is a need to have mechanisms in place in order to make an efficient justice system that continues to address different and diverse concerns.
He further states that dramatic advances that exists in DNA forensics have been able to continue to propel this exotic science in order to create a mainstream criminal justice applications, and even allow the replacement of fingerprinting as the primary tool that will be used in the verification of different identities. (O'Dell, 2003)argues that quality assurance can be described as a combination of several systematic actions that are instituted properly in order to ensure quality. (O’Dell, 2003) states in his argument that the United States should be able to control the quality of the process. This is the reasons as to why there was the formation of the DNA advisory Board referred to as DAB. DAB is often composed of several distinguished professionals from the public as well as private sectors that exist in a range of ethical, judicial and technical areas.
There is a need for the adoption of national standards in order to ensure that that all the laboratories in the United States adhere to the standards. Accreditation is important and it deals directly with the ability of the lab when it comes to the provision of quality forensic science services. The use of the standards will be of importance even to forensic psychologists as they will be able to ensure that there is the use of proper equipment and proper processes in order to ensure that the DNA analysis that is done is correct and to the point. (Mueller, 1993) states that although DNA technology has been instrumental even for forensic psychologists, controversy has over the years surrounded forensics especially in respect to the provision of estimates of genetically similar individuals that exist in populations.
There have been several questions regarding the reliability that comes with the different DNA typing techniques, Mueller, (1993) presents a case of Castro that lead to numerous challenges both in the U.S and Canadian court systems. He states that there is a need to keenly look at the areas of scientific contention especially the area in regards to statistical weight that is often assigned to the DNA evidence. Mueller, (1993) continues to argue that the concerns of the scientific community have not completely fizzled out but have continued to grow and have consequently presented numerous challenges to court systems.
While there have been the presence of many trials that have allowed and admitted DNA evidence, there are some number of state supreme courts and appeal court decisions that have decided to disallow the use of DNA typing because of several techniques that have been argued to be based on the lack of scientific consensus as well as other issues that can be described as being crucial to the application that is proper to DNA typing techniques. (James, 2012) states that when two genetics patterns match, it is often necessary to determine the rarity of these two matching characteristics in order to ensure that the weight that is often attached to the declaration.
This is often used because for example, if 1 in 10 people are expected to share the matching characteristics in the DNA, then the evidence often deserves less weight as compared to chances of a match which is 1 in a million. Therefore, Mueller (1993) and James (2012) have the same conviction in regards to the fact that there is a need to create statistical methodologies which will help in the assessment these probabilities it often recognizes when there are two equally likely assumptions in regards to which conservative should be able to be chosen. In this regard, there is a need to ensure that there is the use of choices that are conservative in order minimize the likelihood of the estimation error in the disadvantages when it goes to the accused suspect.
(Kirk Heilbrun, 2010) argues that the field of forensic psychology has been able to mature as a discipline and in fact it has been able to be integrated with foundation science. Forensic psychology has been able to merge with forensic science and this has led to forensic psychology being used in several lab endeavors such as nuclear and mitochondrial DNA analysis. The knowledge about of psychologists regards to how criminals work and how they think can be described as an invaluable source when it comes to the overall forensic science. The integration with forensic science has also enabled forensic psychologists to stand in court as expert witnesses who are able to give information regarding the importance of DNA analysis, its credibility as well as ensure the integrity of the information given.
There has been an accurate and vigorous promotion of the field of forensic psychology especially in regards to DNA analysis. This is because DNA analysis that has often been handled by forensic psychologists have been at an impressive rate as compared to those that have been held by other health practitioners. This might explain the reason as to why there is an increased number of expert witnesses that have appeared in courtroom as also DNA experts. Heibrun finally concludes that there is a need for the fostering of forensic psychology with other forensic disciplines in a bid to make several process such as the DNA typing more accurate and reliable. This will be a pillar in the justice system and will be able to be used by all.
Ian Freckelton, O. D. (1990). DNA Profiling: Forensic Science under the Microscope. DNA AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE, 28-47.
James, N. (2012). DNA Testing in Criminal Justice: Background, Current Law, Grants, and Issues. Congressional Research Service, 1-40.
John Roman, K. W. (2012). Post-Conviction DNA Testing and Wrongful Conviction. Urban Institute, 1-55.
Kirk Heilbrun, S. B. (2010). FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY AND FORENSIC SCIENCE: A Proposed Agenda for the Next Decade. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 209-252.
Lisa Kreeger, D. W. (2003). Forensic DNA Fundamentals for the Prosecutor: Be Not Afraid . American Prosecutors Research Institute, 1-27.
Mark Dale, O. G. (2006). DNA Forensics: Expanding uses and information sharing . Consortium for Justice and information statistics , 1-18.
Micah A. Luftig, S. R. (2001). DNA and Forensic Science . NEW ENGLAND LAW REVIEW, 609-613.
Mueller, L. (1993). The Use of DNA typing in Forensic science . Accountability in Research , 55-67.
O'Dell, S. A. (2003). A quality assurance system for DNA testing. Forensic Science Journal, 1-4.
Peter Gill, R. S. (2001). DNA Profiling in Forensic Science . ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LIFE SCIENCES, 1-8.
Project, I. (2009). Wrongful Convictions Involving Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science that Were Later Overturned through DNA Testing. Innocence Project, 1-16.
Roewer, L. (2013). DNA fingerprinting in forensics: past, present, future . Roewer Investigative Genetics, 2-10.
Technology can be argued to have made the world more open, and for the most part, it has had huge benefits for the society. However, with all its openness, it might lead to what can be described as unintended consequences. Therefore, the internet has changed the face of organized crime as it has opened up new avenues for criminal activities. For example, terrorists can be able to learn how to use sophisticated weapons on the Internet, information, that was in the past, not available (Wall, 2001). The criminal groupings are also able to use what can be described as lethal innovation by using modern information technologies such as satellite imagery as well as Geographical positioning systems in order to locate their targets (Wall, 2001).
For example, the terrorist assault in the year 2008 that occurred in Mumbai was aided by technology and the internet, as the terrorists were able to create their operation centers where they were able to monitor global news broadcast, online reporting as well as social media in real time. The terrorists were able to use search engines during the attack in a bid to identify individual hostages and determine, based mainly on their backgrounds on who should live and who should die. The internet, therefore, gave the criminal grouping what can be described as an unprecedented situational awareness, as well as a tactical advantage of the government and the police.
Technology such as the use of robots by criminals is now becoming commonplace. International organized crime group are deploying robots as part of their main field operations (Pattavina, 2005). For example, drug traffickers are using robotic submarines that are used to deliver thousands of tons of drugs into the United States. Further, communication systems are being used by terrorists to understand the location of several target persons (Holt, 2011). For instance, it has been shown that there are several persons that have been targeted by terrorists that have been killed by mobile phone triggering bombs.
This is the use of technology, as the persons use technology in order to trigger the bombs in the locations that they have set them up. This, therefore, creates a menace for the law enforcement agencies as there is no person physically that triggers the bomb and consequently, it becomes extremely difficult to try and trace the perpetrators of such a crime.
Illegal gangs are using the Internet to steal people's funds from their bank accounts by hacking. There have been worldwide reports of mass hacking of personal banking information which has then been used to withdraw millions of dollars from individual bank accounts. As the world is transforming and becoming online oriented, the criminal gangs have decided to take it upon themselves to open new avenues technologically to benefit from what they have not sowed (Holt, 2011).
The law enforcement agencies have a difficult task because of this dawn of advancing technological use of crime. However, the law enforcement agencies should ensure that they up their game in terms of technology and always make sure that they are a notch higher than the criminals. Secondly, they should monitor the criminal gangs that are known to use technology to achieve their means and find effective and efficient ways to ensure that they do not continue doing so (Holt, 2011). For example, they might investigate where the Latin drug dealers are buying the robotic submarines and make sure that non-military production of the robotic submarines is stopped, and those, that are used, are supervised and licensed.
Pattavina, A. (2005). Information technology and the criminal justice system. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.
Holt, T. J., & Schell, B. H. (2011). Corporate hacking and technology-driven crime: Social dynamics and implications. Hershey, PA: Business Science Reference.
Wall, D. (2001). Crime and the internet. New York: Routledge.
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