When considering crime, one might argue, “We must use any means necessary to bring the perpetrator to justice.” But this kind of black-or-white thinking can often lead to ethical missteps and human rights violations. There must be checks and balances in place, just like in any other field where life and liberty are at stake.


The criminal justice system contains those checks and balances in the form of the law enforcement code of ethics, as well as policy guidelines and legal statutes. However, technology, tools, and practice models can change more quickly than the guidelines, leaving room for ethical dilemmas.


This week, you evaluate some of the current legal and ethical issues impacting criminal investigations.



Students will:


Analyze technological advances related to DNA evidence

Analyze legal and ethical implications of DNA collection

Evaluate a legal and/or ethical issue related to criminal evidence and investigation

Propose a process, policy, or legal change based on legal and/or ethical issues related to criminal evidence and investigation





Over the past 3 decades, DNA evidence has taken on importance—not only in assisting with new investigations but also in clearing cold cases and exonerating wrongly convicted individuals. One way offenders are identified is comparing crime scene DNA to profiles found in the National DNA Index (NDIS). To date, the system houses some 17 million profiles of offenders and arrestees (Federal Bureau of Investigation, n.d.).


The gathering, storing, and analysis of DNA, however, brings up ethical concerns related to privacy and human rights. For this Discussion, you explore the use of DNA evidence and potential ethical concerns.



Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2019, March). CODIS-NDIS statistics. Retrieved May 1, 2019, from https://www.fbi.gov/services/laboratory/biometric-analysis/codis/ndis-statisticsLinks to an external site.



Be sure to review the Learning Resources before completing this activity.

Click the weekly resources link to access the resources.


Post a response to the following:


Explain how the evolution of technology to determine DNA has affected its use as evidence.

To what degree is DNA data a mechanism of surveillance? To what degree is it a privacy issue?

Which evidence is more reliable: DNA or fingerprint? Why?

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