pler, easier to automate, and less expensive—but incompatible with existing DNA profiles. Accordingly, the committee does not recommend establishing a comprehensive DNA profile databank yet.

  • For the short term, we recommend the establishment of pilot projects that involve prototype databanks based on RFLP technology and consisting primarily of profiles of violent sex offenders. Such pilot projects could be worthwhile for identifying problems and issues in the creation of databanks. However, in the intermediate term, more efficient methods will replace the current one, and the forensic community should not allow itself to become locked into an outdated method.

  • State and federal laboratories, which have a long tradition and much experience in the management of other types of basic evidence, should be given primary responsibility, authority, and additional resources to handle forensic DNA testing and all the associated sample-handling and data-handling requirements.

  • Private-sector firms should not be discouraged from continuing to prepare and analyze DNA samples for specific cases or for databank samples, but they must be held accountable for misuse and abuse to the same extent as government-funded laboratories and government authorities.


To produce biological evidence that is admissible in court in criminal cases, forensic investigators must be well trained in the collection and handling of biological samples for DNA analysis. They should take care to minimize the risk of contamination and ensure that possible sources of DNA are well preserved and properly identified. As in any forensic work, they must attend to the essentials of preserving specimens, labeling, and the chain of custody and must observe constitutional and statutory requirements that regulate the collection and handling of samples. The Fourth Amendment provides much of the legal framework for the gathering of DNA samples from suspects or private places, and court orders are sometimes needed in this connection.

In civil (noncriminal) cases—such as paternity, custody, and proof-of-death cases—the standards for admissibility must also be high, because DNA evidence might be dispositive. The relevant federal rules (Rules 403 and 702-706) and most state rules of evidence do not distinguish between civil and criminal cases in determining the admissibility of scientific data. In a civil case, however, if the results of a DNA analysis are not conclusive, it will usually be possible to obtain new samples for study.

The advent of DNA typing technology raises two key issues for judges: determining admissibility and explaining to jurors the appropriate standards for weighing evidence. A host of subsidiary questions with respect to how

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