Disadvantages of DNA Fingerprinting

Written by drew lichtenstein
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Disadvantages of DNA Fingerprinting
DNA fingerprinting has many pros and cons. (DNA image by Allyson Ricketts from Fotolia.com)

The advantages of DNA fingerprinting in modern society are evident: investigators are able to identify suspects based on testing, juries can feel more confident in their conviction of defendants and employers can more efficiently run background checks. However, DNA fingerprinting is not the magic bullet that it seems in the media. Several disadvantages, if not closely considered, could potentially diminish the advantages.

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While most experts consider DNA testing accurate, there is always the risk of human error in the results. The analyst studies fingerprints, examines various patterns and decides if the patterns are from the same person. Fingerprint analysts go through special training, but there is still a risk of making a mistake that could mean the difference of life and death in a criminal case.

Cost and Time

A major disadvantage of DNA fingerprinting is the cost. Many local police cannot afford a full time DNA fingerprint analyst. This leads them to outsource the tests to experts in other areas. When these experts are busy with other cases, a time management issue can arise. In addition, the fingerprint analyst spends a lot of time in court and preparing their testimony. This time in court takes away from the time the analyst could spend examining fingerprints.

Social Implications

Two major social issues of DNA fingerprinting can lead to eventual pitfalls. One is the issue of an individual's rights and the rights of the government to force suspects to undergo fingerprinting tests. Some people fear that the government may use DNA fingerprinting and the fingerprint national registry to try to track law-abiding citizens. The other concern is that while fingerprint analysis may be accurate, an expert analyst's testimony in court can be extremely confusing for the average juror to follow, a fact that defence attorneys may exploit.

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