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Genetic Surveillance For All

Publication Date: 
March 17, 2009
Source: 
Slate
Author: 
Jeffrey Rosen

Professor Henry T. "Hank" Greely is quoted in a Slate article that discusses the use of familial DNA to identify uspects in criminal investigations:

The legal limits on family searches and DNA databases are murky, but the political implications are explosive for one big reason in particular: race. African-Americans, by several estimates, represent about 13 percent of the U.S. population but 40 percent of the people convicted of felonies every year. The CODIS database of 6.6 million now includes samples from convicted offenders. As arrestees are added to this mix, CODIS may soon grow to 50 million samples, which might be even more disproportionately African-American. Hank Greely of Stanford Law School has estimated that 17 percent of African-American citizens could be identified through familial searches, as opposed to only 4 percent of the Caucasian population. Once the implications of the racial disparity become clear, there may be a reaction against ever-more-expansive forms of DNA collection that makes the debate about racial profiling look tame.