The collection of an individual’s specific biological blueprint, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), without consent is not an intrusion of privacy or illegal if collected from hair, skin flakes, semen or saliva if left in a public area or location, as there is no belief of privacy (Thompson, 2007). Many prosecutors equate discarded DNA with refuse, which the courts have allowed as evidence for many investigations. This has been beneficial for many cold case investigators, as access to this DNA allows officers to evaluate evidence from old cases. While this DNA may validate the identity of an accused person, it may also clear the name of an innocent person.
The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is a national databank that houses profiles of DNA collected from state and federal governments. The federal government and each state currently require those convicted of certain categories of crime to submit samples of DNA (Hibbert, 2014). The data is cached in CODIS, and allows each participating entity to access and compare crime scene evidence to a database of DNA profiles obtained from offenders who have been convicted of felonies, particularly for sex crime investigations.
The Department of Justice (2014) describes the benefits of such an evidence databank. Entry of organic evidence into CODIS improves the ability of investigators to pull existing profiles and match the data to current or existing cases, and help identify the culprit. If existing DNA profiles are matched to offenders, it is possible to prevent others in the community from being crime victims of recurrent, violent offenders.
There is reported variability in the retention of DNA, though many states remove samples from exonerated suspects or for those with a reversed conviction. Rhodes (2011) notes that as of 2011, 33 states require retention of DNA evidence as long a person convicted of a serious crimes is imprisoned (para 2). In most cases, a court order is required for destruction of such evidence. Hibbert