50 whys to look for genes: 19. DNA fingerprinting

“Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.” The majority of the US Supreme Court, June 3rd.  2013

Complications

A previous post explains how this decision endorses discrimination in the real world given that the databases of such DNA do not include everyone and are not a random sample of all social groups.  If the frequency of criminals in groups A and B were the same, but the ratio of group A to group B in the database was skewed towards the group A (*), it follows that, if you are a group B criminal, you are less likely to be identified by this DNA database approach than if you are a group A criminal.  The ideal of equal under the law would only apply to the criminal’s fate after being identified.  The problem is exacerbated by disproportionate arrests of group A.  (* African Americans and the poor are disproportionately represented in existing DNA databases.)

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(Introduction to this series of posts)

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