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Copyright (c) 2005 Arizona Board of Regents
Arizona Law Review

NOTE: The Role Genetic Information Plays in the Criminal Justice System

Summer, 2005

47 Ariz. L. Rev. 519


Lisa Schriner Lewis*


I. Introduction

Consider a world where an analysis of your genetic material at birth creates a "genetic resume," which determines your station in life. What if, in this reality, the deoxyribonucleic acid ("DNA") within a drop of blood determines whether you will be incarcerated for crimes not yet committed or subjected to behavior modification? In this world, diseases are identified and cured before becoming symptomatic, and antisocial behavior is predicted and treated prior to resulting in violence. While this may seem like a fantastic science-fiction movie, 2 the science of it is not outside the realm of possibility. It is therefore imperative that the law develops to prevent such science from becoming a modern eugenics tool. 3 Caution must also be taken, however, to ensure that the law does not prevent society from reaping the tremendous benefits promised by advances in genetics.

Currently, scientists are identifying genes that indicate characteristics such as antisocial behavior, aggression, and sexual orientation. 4 Advances in genetic technology will open doors never before imagined. Doctors will diagnose diseases before a person becomes symptomatic 5 and customize treatments to the patient's genetic makeup. 6 Law enforcement officers will compile physical profiles of criminal suspects from DNA evidence left at a crime scene. 7 And psychologists will use biology to explain certain behaviors. 8

This Note explores the recent developments in genetic research and its applicability to criminal law. Part II provides a brief discussion and introduction to the science behind DNA and some applications ...
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