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      Policy implications for familial searching

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          Abstract

          In the United States, several states have made policy decisions regarding whether and how to use familial searching of the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database in criminal investigations. Familial searching pushes DNA typing beyond merely identifying individuals to detecting genetic relatedness, an application previously reserved for missing persons identifications and custody battles. The intentional search of CODIS for partial matches to an item of evidence offers law enforcement agencies a powerful tool for developing investigative leads, apprehending criminals, revitalizing cold cases and exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals. As familial searching involves a range of logistical, social, ethical and legal considerations, states are now grappling with policy options for implementing familial searching to balance crime fighting with its potential impact on society. When developing policies for familial searching, legislators should take into account the impact of familial searching on select populations and the need to minimize personal intrusion on relatives of individuals in the DNA database. This review describes the approaches used to narrow a suspect pool from a partial match search of CODIS and summarizes the economic, ethical, logistical and political challenges of implementing familial searching. We examine particular US state policies and the policy options adopted to address these issues. The aim of this review is to provide objective background information on the controversial approach of familial searching to inform policy decisions in this area. Herein we highlight key policy options and recommendations regarding effective utilization of familial searching that minimize harm to and afford maximum protection of US citizens.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Investig Genet
                Investigative Genetics
                BioMed Central
                2041-2223
                2011
                1 November 2011
                : 2
                : 22
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Center for Genome Ethics, Law & Policy, Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, Duke University, Box 90141, Durham, NC 27708, USA
                Article
                2041-2223-2-22
                10.1186/2041-2223-2-22
                3253037
                22040348
                Copyright ©2011 Kim et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Review

                Genetics

                forensic genetics, genetic identity, likelihood functions, dna data bank, dna typing

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