That information is useful for local, independent bookkeeping and record management. But it is also ripe for statistical or correlative disclosure. Just the existence in a databank of a sample from a person, independent of any DNA-related information, may be prejudicial to the person. In some laboratories, the donor cannot legally prevent outsiders' access to the samples, but can request its withdrawal. A request for withdrawal might take a month or more to process. In most cases, only physicians with signed permission of the donor have access to samples, but typically no safeguards are taken to verify individual requests independently. That is not to say that the laboratories intend to violate donors' rights; they are simply offering a service for which there is a recognized market and attempting to provide services as well as they can.

Recommendations

  • In the future, if pilot studies confirm its value, a national DNA profile databank should be created that contains information on felons convicted of particular violent crimes. Among crimes with high rates of recidivism, the case is strongest for rape, because perpetrators typically leave biological evidence (semen) that could allow them to be identified. Rape is the crime for which the databank will be of primary use. The case is somewhat weaker for violent offenders who are most likely to commit homicide as a recidivist offense, because killers leave biological evidence only in a minority of cases.

  • The databank should also contain DNA profiles of unidentified persons made from biological samples found at crime scenes. These would be samples known to be of human origin, but not matched with any known persons.

  • Databanks containing DNA profiles of members of the general population (as exist for ordinary fingerprints for identification purposes) are not appropriate, for reasons of both privacy and economics.

  • DNA profile databanks should be accessible only to legally authorized persons and should be stored in a secure information resource.

  • Legal policy concerning access and use of both DNA samples and DNA databank information should be established before widespread proliferation of samples and information repositories. Interim protection and sanctions against misuse and abuse of information derived from DNA typing should be established immediately. Policies should explicitly define authorized uses and should provide for criminal penalties for abuses.

  • Although the committee endorses the concept of a limited national DNA profile databank, it doubts that existing RFLP-based technology provides an appropriate wise long-term foundation for such a databank. We expect current methods to be replaced soon with techniques that are sim-



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