Using CODIS To Solve Crimes

he real investigative power of DNA technology can be realized in its application to cases where a suspect has not yet been identified. DNA technology and the FBI's CODIS database can help law enforcement identify perpetrators or link serial crimes. CODIS uses two indices to generate investigative leads in crimes that contain biological evidence—the forensic index contains DNA profiles from biological evidence left at crime scenes, and the offender index contains DNA profiles of individuals convicted of violent crimes. Each state has a DNA database law that defines which convicted offenders must enter their profiles into the database. Some states have expanded their laws to require that all felons enter their DNA profiles into the state's database. The CODIS database enables local, state, and federal forensic crime laboratories to work together to solve crimes between jurisdictions or across state lines. While CODIS is operated on the state level, the FBI's national database (also known as the National DNA Index System or NDIS) may link profiles from the databases of each of the 50 states to provide law enforcement with a national network to investigate violent crime. The CODIS database will continue to have an impact on the identification of serial rapists and murderers who have committed crimes in more than one jurisdiction. It is important to realize that although the power of the CODIS database primarily is used in identifying perpetrators of crime, it also can affirm a suspect's innocence.

Previous Contents Next

Understanding DNA Evidence: A Guide for Victim Service Providers
April 2001