Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The President's DNA Initiative

Today, it is unusual to read or listen to a news report of crime without also hearing something about forensic DNA testing in the report. The public's expectations for DNA testing in criminal investigations have multiplied significantly in the last decade. These expectations have compelled all participants in the criminal justice system to at least be aware if not knowledgeable about forensic DNA testing.

The President's DNA Initiative, announced in March 2003, calls for increased funding, training, and assistance -- to federal, state, and local forensic laboratories; to law enforcement; to medical officials; and to prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges.

One of the more interesting and valuable elements of the Initiative is a 15-module online training course for prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges. It was released on February 22, 2006. Though registration is required, it is free, and anyone can register. The course is entitled Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court. The course content includes:
  • Information on the biology of DNA
  • The history of forensic DNA analysis
  • How to understand a forensic DNA lab report
  • Factors in post conviction DNA testing requests
  • Information about forensic DNA databases
  • Issues involved in presenting DNA evidence in the courtroom
  • Information on the admissibility issues regarding the use of DNA evidence
  • An extensive glossary with basic definitions relating to forensic DNA analysis

In addition to better informing court officers, the training would be useful for journalists who do crime and court reporting and who may need to write about DNA evidence.


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