By Becca Stanger, December 2013.
Overview. Operating on a local, state, and federal level, the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is the FBI DNA database. As of October 2013, the National DNA Index (NDIS), or the federal level of the CODIS, contained over 10,647,800 offender profiles, 1,677,100 arrestee profiles, and 522,200 forensic profiles. Designed to help solve crimes, this database has generated over 255,400 hits and has aided over 216,200 investigations. While this organizing system has played a crucial role in reducing crime by enabling more interactions in the law enforcement agency than ever before, it provokes numerous ethical questions worth exploring.
What is being organized? The CODIS database maintains digital records or “DNA profiles” for a wide range of people involved in criminal justice cases, including convicted offenders, arrestees, missing persons, and more. Specifically, these profiles are measurements of one or two alleles of 13 predetermined unique genetic sequence loci. These precise measurements provide enough granularity for the profiles to uniquely identify a single individual.
These resource descriptions are generated, often with polymerase chain reaction technology, from the original DNA specimen resources by accredited laboratories nationwide. Upon creation, the resources themselves—the specimens—are kept at the laboratories, while the resource descriptions—the digital profiles—are added to the CODIS database. No offender ...