Fingerprints vs. DNA Is One Better Term Paper

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Fingerprints vs. DNA: Is one better than the other?

Fingerprints vs. DNA

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Finger print identification is more accurate than DNA analysis. Fingerprints are time tested and in vogue for the last two centuries and easily accepted and understood. Finger prints are unique for each individual and are permanent and unalterable. The important fact about the fingerprint is the near infallibility. While DNA testing does have an important role in detection of crime, in the current situation its infallibility is not absolute and therefore does not score much over the absolute certainty of finger print evidence. Probe sensitivity for DNA testing is lesser and the problems of interpreting the results have not given it the same credibility of other evidence. There is no safeguard or guarantee to rule out a false match and insufficient identification data in the case of DNA testing. The greater problem is the time consumed in the profiling of the DNA as compared to the fingerprint technique especially in a spot where the evidence need be taken from objects and the scene of occurrence. DNA profiling lacks the speed of fingerprint analysis because of the difficulty of matching profiles of offenders to the samples. There is a shortage of qualified examiners and therefore work overflow has slowed and regarded the process of developing the method into better functional applications. On the other hand, fingerprint experts are common part of the criminal investigation squad and also there are forensic laboratories that have records of fingerprints which can be profiled and matched within seconds. DNA testing is yet to gain the absolute trust of the law makers and judiciary partly because the method is not yet fully explored and not fully understood by the jurists. The general view of the courts is to rely on other evidence wherever available, even to the extent of ignoring the DNA evidence. It could be said that DNA testing is yet to gain absolute acceptance in courts and so the balance in favor of fingerprints.

Introduction

Term Paper on Fingerprints vs. DNA Is One Better Than the Other Assignment

The nature of the debate can have the academic and the practical side. Seen from the point-of-view of detection of a crime, it is somewhat an anomaly to weigh the difference between the two. Because of the nature of the operation, the power of both the DNA test and the fingerprint ought to be brought into direct use in any single instance. The problem arises when the offender with knowledge of forensic practice takes care to eliminate or leave absolutely no fingerprints. The question then will be if DNA finger printing is a reliable substitute? Where the finger prints are obtained and can be fitted into the part of the narration and other circumstantial evidence, the role of DNA mapping becomes secondary. Today criminals are prepared enough to leave no finger prints. It will take a long time before someone actually brings in a method not to leave the DNA strands. Until such time, we cannot say that DNA testing is the better and easier method that identifies persons accurately.

Issues in forensic science

Evidence collected by all means must meet the common criteria and the evidence collected can be a physical match evidence, print match, marks of tools and objects, prints like footprints, shoe prints and other physical material, and importantly biological prints like fingerprints, footprints, and matches from other body parts. Handwriting and DNA evidence is now a part of the investigation arsenal. The traits of the collected material in terms of their generation, and the level of control that was exercised in collection and the uniqueness of a trait will mark it as identification. The important process in both the type of evidence material collection is the proper process of collection and storage, or preserving samples for the trial. Finger prints and DNA both have to be looked at with the principles of classification, collection and preservation. (Inman; Rudin, 2001)

Forensic science is based on the traditional science like chemistry, physics and biology. Genetics had recently entered the stream on account of DNA testing. Inman and Rudin say that while fingerprints of two spectra cannot find a similar match, the findings still are largely subjective and forensic science must be studied subjectively. Therefore we must also study the ongoing debate between the choice of fingerprint and other general evidence and DNA tests in a subjective manner taking into account the human factor which may render the exact science slightly unreliable. (Pyrek, 2007)

Finger prints and DNA a comparison

Finger prints are unique for each individual and are permanent and unalterable. The changes in the ridges and lines can be easily verified even if there were scars or mutilations. ("Fingerprinting Basics," n. d.) the system developed around finger print study is such that there is no possibility of making a mistake. The important fact about the fingerprint is the near infallibility. The important fact is that two principles lead to a total personal identification. The first one is the uniqueness in individuals of the friction ridge skin which in the second principle is permanent and unalterable. "The selectivity of the friction ridge tool must be understood in depth to appreciate the infallibility of the finger print identification." (Champod, 2004)

Today both the fingerprinting and the DNA analysis are valuable tools for "personal and criminal identification." ("Fingerprinting Basics," n. d.) Finger print identification is more accurate than DNA analysis and one example we can site is that twins may have exact DNA but always have varied finger prints. ("Fingerprinting Basics," n. d.) the DNA fingerprinting, by which the process is known is a group of processes that is used to show similarities or dissimilarities between the DNA of individuals and the comparison is made for scientific study and classification. A pattern is produced from the tissues by 'digesting the enzymes' and using agrose gel a pattern is created which will show the unique characteristics of the individual under study. ("DNA Fingerprinting and Forensics," 2006)

We have to understand that the DNA study is recent and fingerprint analysis is centuries old. The legal system adopted fingerprinting and thereby subjected all citizens to it two centuries ago. In 1985 the DNA or genetic fingerprinting was used. The system was developed by Prof. Alec Jeffrys and subsequent to its recognition the courts have recognized it as direct evidence. Fingerprinting was made official with the penal servitude act far back in 1891 which provided for the fingerprinting of convicts and by the direction of a magistrate for those in remand. However changes in these views came about in 1929 where it was asserted that common law power to take fingerprints was abridged to convicted prisoners only. Having come a long way from there, apart from fingerprinting the law allows sampling of DNA from arrested persons since 2003. However in this regard there is a deep misgiving as to its misuse and it is felt that the legal powers given for the DNA is very excessive. (McCartney, 2006)

We may say therefore that fingerprints and allied science is time tested and in vogue for the last two centuries and easily accepted and understood by the jury and the legal practitioners. In contrast DNA testing is yet to gain the absolute trust of the law makers and judiciary partly because the method is not yet fully explored, and it requires very highly qualified personnel who are not available. Secondly the use of DNA for forensic science is different from scientific study and classification for other purposes. While it does have an important role in detection of crime, in the current situation its infallibility is not absolute and therefore does not score much over the absolute certainty of finger print evidence. Probe sensitivity for DNA testing is lesser and the problems of interpreting the results have not given it the same credibility of other evidence. The fact is also true that in some criminal investigations the single locus probe analysis rich patterns were available to produce admissible evidence. DNA finger printing provides phenotypes, and they are not genotypic, that means information cannot be directly deduced from the available data. In other words as of now it is a form of secondary evidence. The DNA analyzer must be an adept at "accumulating elements such as minisatellites and retropsons. And there is no evidence for coding expressions, except the polymorphic mucin" and with that limitation we may say that phenotype information cannot be obtained from DNA analysis. (Pena, 1993)

It cannot be stressed enough that while the science of fingerprinting and analysis evolved to almost a perfect method over the centuries, the same cannot be said of DNA analytics. There is a crucial difference in the use of DNA for scientific research and forensic science. Prosecutors in the initial introductory stages were successful in convincing the courts that DNA was infallible as a test. Expert witness testimony stood against the challenge and courts failed to appreciate that research work in DNA did not naturally convert the expert into a forensic expert. The argument is that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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