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Familial DNA Searching: Issues and Answers - Panel Discussion at the 2011 NIJ Conference

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2011
8 pages
This audio and its transcript cover panel presentations on issues in familial DNA searching, which was part of the 2011 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Conference.
Two presenters from the District Attorney's Office in Denver, CO, discuss the background and policies associated with their office's use of familial DNA searching in developing leads in various cases, particularly cases that have gone unsolved for a long period. Familial searching occurs when there is no direct match between DNA found at a crime scene and one in CODIS. Familial DNA searching is a broader search of CODIS that may find indications that the DNA from the crime scene is from a member of the family of an individual who is in CODIS. The family relationship is considered particularly strong for males with the same Y-STR type. The two presenters from the Denver District Attorney's office discuss their efforts to bring familial DNA searching into the office's investigative repertoire and the development of policies that address privacy issues regarding members of families involved in a familial DNA match. The cost-benefit of this investigative technique is also discussed. A third presenter, Stephen Mercer - chief attorney in the Forensics Division of the Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore, MD - discusses why his State has banned familial DNA searching, because it is viewed as a misuse of CODIS, an invasion of the privacy of families that may become involved in such a search, and generally does not produce successful outcomes.

Date Published: June 1, 2011