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Archive for May, 2011 Monthly Archives

Bill A-2594, that passed the New Jersey Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee and now heads to the full Assembly, will increase law enforcement’s crime-fighting powers buy requiring DNA samples from individuals arrested on suspicion of certain violent crimes. An identical version of the bill has already been approved by the Senate today.

Bill A-2594 amends New Jersey’s “DNA Database and Databank Act of 1994” so that it requires DNA samples from anyone arrested on suspicion of crimes. These include: murder; manslaughter; second degree aggravated assault; attempts to or causes serious bodily injury to another, or causes bodily injury while fleeing or attempting to flee a law enforcement officer; kidnapping; luring or enticing a child; engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of a child; or aggravated sexual assault; sexual assault; aggravated criminal sexual contact; criminal sexual contact, or an attempt to commit any of these offenses.

The New Jersey bill stipulates that if the charges against a person from whom a DNA sample was collected are dismissed, or if a person is acquitted at trial, the sample and the profile would be destroyed, and all related records expunged, upon request by that individual.

The bill also gives law enforcement the teeth to be able to ensure compliance by making it a crime for any person who knowingly refuses to submit to the collection of a blood or biological sample.  The penalty would be a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, or a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

This bill will start to work with the FBI’s current index of DNA profiles. The FBI uses a system called CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) which provides for the storage and exchange of law enforcement DNA records on a national basis.  CODIS consists of two separate indexes. The first is a “forensic” index containing DNA profiles from crime scene evidence.  The second is an  “offender” index, with DNA profiles of convicted offenders. It also allows for an electronic comparison of the DNA profiles from those two indexes. Often “hits” (matches) between DNA found at crime scenes and DNA profiles of convicted offenders are made.  Analysts can also link multiple or unsolved crimes to a single perpetrator by comparing profiles in both indexes.

When President Obama announced Sunday evening, May 1st,  that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in a United States military operation, many wanted physical proof that the person killed and taken into custody was in fact Mr. Osama Bin Laden.

At this time reports are confirming 3 ways the remains were identified: 1) Facial recognition software was used to match the remains with facial photos of Osama Bin Laden. 2) There was apparently a personal identification of the body by someone inside the complex (exactly who identified the remains is unclear).  3) DNA testing of the remains took place within hours of death.

DNA Testing is now fast and accurate. It no longer takes weeks but can be done in the matter of hours and has a 99.9% or better accuracy rate.  At least one question remains – who, how or what did they test to confirm that it was Osama Bin Laden?  Did they test a family member against his DNA? There is speculation that they could they have tested the purported Osama Bin Laden sample against DNA from his sister, which (according to reports) had been held at Massachusetts General Hospital after her death in Boston last year. Or did they somehow already have Osama Bin Laden’s DNA on file and test against that?

According to Dr. M. Al Salih, who works at DNA Reference Laboratory in San Antonio, TX, he is sure that the results are accurate.  “You can come up with a very solid and absolute certainty that that is him and nobody else. If you identify that individual through those markers, and you can compare and you can say, ‘They match,’ or ‘They don’t match.’” Salih went on to state that the technology is very precise and results are 99.9 percent accurate.

However, on the other side is Dr. Greg Hampikian, a biology professor at Boise State University, says if they can get DNA from one of his kids and their mother then they do a reverse paternity test to confirm his identity and he suspects that is the type of DNA testing that was done. However even with a 99.9 percent identification Hampikian says that this case is not closed. As a scientist, Hampikian says 99.9 percent does not equal a positive identification.

As is the case with most major events such as this, skeptics speculate that we have not received enough proof and conspiracy abounds. One thing is for certain, we love conspiracies and we will never really know the truth.