The FBI’s CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) helps local law enforcement identify suspects by comparing DNA evidence to DNA profiles in the CODIS database. It is a powerful tool for clearing cold cases, but now defense attorneys routinely look for a break in the chain of evidence, hoping to rule out a DNA match linking their client to a crime. If a property room cannot prove that DNA was properly stored and properly secured, the evidence becomes suspect and a judge may summarily dismiss the case.
Added to chain-of-evidence issues are changes in state laws requiring retention of DNA evidence for longer periods, as well as increases in the length of the statute of limitations. Writing in the FBI’s “Focus On Forensics,” William Kiley discusses how CODIS and statutory changes place great pressure on property rooms where space, security, and environmental controls are a challenge (http://1.usa.gov/1DzUwQJ). It’s a complex problem, and the solutions aren’t always readily apparent. Luckily, there are high-density storage systems with security controls designed specifically for long-term evidence storage. Even more important, the experts at Systematics can help explain the options.
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