Gill: How misuse of DNA evidence has led to miscarriages of justice

DNA analysis has revolutionised forensic science; helping to catch prolific murderers and shining a light on miscarriages of justice that have seen innocent people wrongfully convicted of serious crimes. Such is the power of DNA to identify, convict, and exonerate, that many perceive it to be infallible. Yet DNA evidence has a number of limitations and the costs of not being aware of these can be huge.

As a forensic geneticist of 35 years standing, I have been very closely involved with every stage of the development of DNA profiling since its discovery in 1985. Yet over recent years, I have become particularly concerned with standards of practice and the court statements written by some forensic scientists.

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PCAST Report Final Issued

Report on Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods

On September 20, 2016, PCAST released a Report to the President on Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison

SelectaDNA makes debut at TN Subway Sub Location

A Subway franchise in Knoxville, Tenn. is the first US business to arm itself with “intruder spray,” which tags would-be robbers with a product called SelectaDNA. According to the manufacturer, the solution contains “a unique DNA code which can be used to uniquely mark and trace both items of property and criminals.”

SelectaDNA’s US distributor, Johan Larsen, told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that the system is already being used in Australia and Europe. Successfully, at least according to company claims.

Anyone bold enough to ignore warning signs and break into (or bust out of) the sandwich shop will be coated in a fine mist of synthetic DNA. The spray is “traceable for weeks” and is “only visible with a glow under ultraviolet light,”

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National Commission on Forensic Science Draft Documents

The National Commission on Forensic Science has released another round of draft documents for public comment. Criminal Justice stake holders are encouraged to weigh in on the policies being suggested for implementation in the field. Comments are due by May 15th. Take an active role in shaping the field.!docketDetail;dct=FR+PR+N+O+SR;rpp=10;po=0;D=DOJ-LA-2015-0004