Improving the Effectiveness of the National DNA Data Bank: A Consideration of the Criminal Antecedents of Predatory Sexual Offenders

By House, John C.; Cullen, Richard M. et al. | Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, January 2006 | Go to article overview

Improving the Effectiveness of the National DNA Data Bank: A Consideration of the Criminal Antecedents of Predatory Sexual Offenders


House, John C., Cullen, Richard M., Snook, Brent, Noble, Paul, Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice


Les auteurs ont evalue l'efficacite de la Loi sur l'identification par les empreintes genetiques en determinant si 106 predateurs sexuels meurtriers et 85 predateurs sexuels violeurs avaient deja ete condamnes pour des infractions exigeant la communication du profil d'identification genetique a la Banque nationale de donnees genetiques, Ils ont donc verifie si les casiers judiciaires des delinquants faisaient etat de condamnations anterieures pour des infractions primaires ou secondaires designees, selon les dispositions de cette loi, ainsi que pour des infractions non designees ayant ete commises avant le meurtre ou l'agression sexuelle. Or, la majorite des meurtriers (68 %) et des agresseurs sexuels (59 %) n'avaient ete declares coupables d'aucune infraction primaire designee ; 50 % des meurtriers et 37 % des agresseurs sexuels n'avaient ete declares coupables d'aucune infraction secondaire designee ; et 39 % des meurtriers et 28 % des agresseurs sexuels n'avaient ete declares coupables d'aucune infraction designee. Dans l' ensemble, ce sont les infractions non designees qui faisaient l'objet du plus grand nombre de condamnations anterieures, alors que les infractions primaires designees faisaient l'objet du nombre moins eleve de condamnations anterieures. Des condamnations anterieures pour vol (infraction non designee) et pour introduction par effraction (infraction secondaire) etaient les plus nombreuses pour les deux groupes de delinquants. Enfin, les resultats laissent entendre qu'on pourra ameliorer l'efficacite de la Banque nationale de donnees genetiques en exigeant le prelevement d'echantillons d'ADN a la suite de condamnations pour certaines infractions non designees ou secondaires designees.

Introduction

Forensic analysis of human deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) has proved to be a useful procedure for the resolution of criminal investigations. There have been cases in which individuals were exonerated because their unique DNA profile did not match the DNA profile derived from biological trace evidence at the crime scene (Anderson and Anderson 1998; Wells, Small, Penrod, Malpass, Fulero, and Brimacombe 1998). Conversely, DNA analysis has also led to the successful identification and conviction of offenders (Jackson and Jackson 2004; McDonald 1998). DNA evidence has further been used to detect the presence of serial offenders by linking different crimes to one individual (Williams, Johnson, and Martin 2004). The benefits to the administration of justice highlighted by these achievements inspired police forces to advocate the implementation of a DNA data bank to store DNA samples obtained through criminal investigations. As a result, National DNA Data Bank (NDDB) legislation has been established in Canada to assist in the identification of serious offenders by ensuring the mandatory provision of DNA samples from individuals following convictions for particular "designated" offences. To date, there have been some reported successes. However, the usefulness of the current list of designated offences for identifying persons alleged to have committed serious offences has never been empirically examined. Consequently, the current study examines the extent to which these offences are found in the criminal history of predatory sexual murderers and assaulters and, thus, whether the NDDB could have been used to identify them during the murder or assault investigation.

The potential power of DNA analysis has been noted since it was first used successfully in the criminal investigation of the assault and murder of two young women near Leicester, U.K. (Wambaugh 1989). In that case, police officers used DNA analysis to determine that the same individual had committed both homicides and that the primary suspect was not the perpetrator. The police subsequently collected and analysed DNA samples from more than 4,500 men in the villages of Narborough, Littlethorpe, and Enderby and eventually found a match between the DNA profile of Colin Pitchfork and crime-scene DNA evidence (Wambaugh 1989). …

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