The Social and Legal Construction of Suspects
Posted: 18 Oct 2010
Date Written: December 2006
DNA profiling and searchable databases enhance the ability of policing organizations to search for criminal suspects. In many respects, these technologies are incorporated within traditions of police work, supplementing familiar "subjective" methods of constructing suspects. In other ways, however, the construction of DNA databases in Britain, the United States, and elsewhere shifts criminal investigation toward suspect populations and statistical suspects. Not only is DNA evidence used to confirm that a criminal suspect is the source of crime scene evidence, it can be used to search freely through a suspect population for a possible source of such evidence. This method, commonly known as database trawling, comprises a new way of constructing suspects, one that bears close connections with new data mining technologies for prospectively identifying terrorist suspects.
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