Two Fallacies About DNA Data Banks for Law Enforcement

01 January 2001

This commentary on the article Legal and Policy Issues in Expanding the Scope of Law Enforcement DNA Data Banks, 67 Brook. L. Rev. 127 (2001), by Mark Rothstein and Sandra Carnahan, argues that the case for confining law enforcement DNA databases to noncoding loci and to samples from individuals convicted of violent crimes is quite weak. It describes alternative approaches, including the possibility of a population-wide database; the privacy implications of the loci now used in forensic identification; the law governing DNA dragnets; and the limits on DNA databases imposed by recent cases on searches and seizures. It notes the importance of addressing issues of racial equality along with privacy concerns in designing DNA databases for law enforcement.