After a morning that dealt in large part with privacy concerns in the use of genetic data, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues heard another side of the issue: The data can lead to justice.
Melissa Mourges, Assistant District Attorney and Chief of the Forensic Sciences/Cold Cases Unit in the New York County District Attorney’s office, described how DNA data has been invaluable.
With DNA profiles, Mourges said, “we can get cold hits matching a suspect to a crime. … For instance, we can learn a rape from California and a rape in Oklahoma are done by the same guy.”
She also said that authorities have kept tight restrictions on how the data has been used. Her comments followed other participants who raised questions about whether authorities could protect the privacy of an individual’s genomic sequencing.
Mourges said the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which are forensic databases maintained by all 50 states and the FBI, keeps DNA profiles of all known offenders. She said the system doesn’t allow for identification of a suspect until there’s a match in a case.
“We are never moving back with this technology,” she said, referring to law enforcement’s use of DNA data. “We have evidence who proves who done it, and not beyond a reasonable doubt, but beyond all doubt.”