Solving Crimes with Genetic Fingerprinting

June 30, 1989

Report Outline
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Law-enforcement officials now have a powerful new weapon in their war on crime: DNA typing, or genetic fingerprinting. But while the procedure makes it easier to link suspects to certain crimes, its overall impact may not be as revolutionary as some have predicted.

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DNA typing, often called “genetic fingerprinting,” has been hailed as a revolutionary breakthrough in law enforcement. One prosecutor called it “the greatest boon to forensic medicine and law since fingerprinting.”

No two individuals (except identical twins) have the same DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid, the molecules containing genetic information. By comparing a suspect's DNA “type” with that found in blood, semen or other biological evidence found at the crime scene, investigators can scientifically link the suspect to a crime—or clear him of it. Identification by DNA typing has been described as “virtually certain.”

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