The Effects of DNA Databases on Crime

46 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2015 Last revised: 15 Aug 2016

Jennifer L. Doleac

University of Virginia - Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy

Date Written: August 1, 2016

Abstract

Every U.S. state has a database of criminal offenders’ DNA profiles. These databases receive widespread attention in the media and popular culture, but there has been no rigorous analysis of their impact on crime. This paper intends to fill that gap. I exploit the details and timing of state DNA database expansions in two ways, first to address the effects of DNA profiling on individuals’ subsequent criminal behavior and then to address the aggregate effects on crime rates. I show that DNA databases deter crime by profiled offenders, reduce crime rates, and are more cost-effective than traditional law enforcement tools.

Keywords: DNA, crime, technology, deterrence, recidivism

JEL Classification: K14, K42, H7

Suggested Citation

Doleac, Jennifer L., The Effects of DNA Databases on Crime (August 1, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2556948 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2556948

Jennifer L. Doleac (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy ( email )

235 McCormick Rd.
P.O. Box 400893
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4893
United States

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