DNA and Criminology
DNA has not only impacted areas such as paternity testing and genetics, but it has literally revolutionised the field of criminology and improved the functioning of the criminal justice system. In fact, the term 'DNA' for many is strongly associated with crime, notably because numerous television programs have popularised the molecule. Yet, for a great number of people the use of DNA in criminology is still a foreign concept. As the media and those involved in the science field offer consumer education, however, DNA understanding will provide even more improvements in the criminal justice system.
Understanding the Field of CriminologyCriminology is actually within the sociology field and it involves the science of our society. It uses science to study crime and criminal behaviours as well as our corrections facilities. Not only that, but criminology looks at how society itself responds to crime and it investigates methods of crime prevention. Whether evidence is being examined or the emotional and mental effects of crime on victims are being analysed, criminology is an important field that supports a healthy society. In this way, research to find better, more improved ways of studying and applying criminology are vital to keeping the public safe. Criminology also seeks to use research to improve public policy in the criminal justice system.
DNA has come to play a major role in the field of criminology, with applications that have provided impacts extending to proof of innocence or guilt in a crime. For some cases, DNA analysis and profiling is actually the main method used to identify individuals involved in the crime and ultimately, to solve the crime. Since DNA is found in blood, skin cells, hair and all around the human body, the ability of criminal investigators to analyse evidence has improved dramatically since the discovery of DNA and the development of DNA analysis techniques.
Using DNA to Solve CrimesSince the advent of DNA profiling, this type of evidence has become an extremely powerful tool in the field of criminology. Given that a person's DNA is the same in all areas of their body, it can't be altered or modified in any way. In this sense, it is a form of evidence resistant to tampering, although it can become degraded if collected and stored improperly. This degradation, however, will affect the ability of the DNA to be sequenced as opposed to being incorrectly sequenced. Since no DNA is the same between two people – with the exception of identical twins – this form of evidence is now relied on as an accurate way to direct or conclude criminal cases. Currently, DNA in a crime scene can help investigators to point their finger in the right direction or exclude an innocent person from a crime.
Identifying Victims of CrimeAnother important function of DNA in criminology is that it can be used to identify victims of crime, many of whom would be otherwise unidentifiable because of the condition of their body when discovered. Hair and many other parts of the body can provide viable DNA evidence that is analysed and profiled to identify the victim of the crime.
Linking Two CrimesDNA that is the same but found at two separate crime scenes can be used to link together the crimes. This can help criminal investigators determine if a serial criminal is at work or perhaps if the victims knew one another.
Keeping the public safe is one of the most important goals of criminologists. To do so, they need the best techniques for analysing evidence that they can possibly obtain. With DNA, the field of criminology is substantially stronger and improved. As we learn more about DNA analysis, we can develop a greater number of sophisticated techniques. In turn, these techniques can advance criminology by providing better ways of analysing data. Ultimately, the level of public safety can continue to be enhanced.