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New DNA test has promise for greater accuracy

DNA analysis has revolutionized some elements of criminal investigations. DNA evidence could provide support for truly scientific support for crime scene investigations, and provide a means of identifying criminal suspects that weren't "by gosh and by glory." In recent years, rigorous examinations of many so-called tests used by forensic labs have shown they, in fact, were base on little more than educated guesses and gut-feeling conclusions.

DNA, which sequenced the fundamental genetic material of a person, was sufficiently unique that it could be used to identify blood or other biological evidence behind at a crime scene and then be used to tie that individual to the crime.

Ironically, it has also been used to exonerate individuals who were wrongfully convicted and sent to prison for crimes they did not commit. Because of its genuine scientific credentials, it has both provided crime labs with a greater veneer of science and been used to show just how deficient many previously accepted "tests," like ballistics and hair analysis, are by comparison.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is looking into adopting a new DNA test that would provide a better, more accurate test for analysis of DNA materials. The new test is reported to produce upwards of 10 times the number of markers that it can sequence in a single run.

This level of detail would allow identification of hair and eye color, facial structure and racial background. This could help in missing person's cases and should allow for a more accurate test that would provide conclusive proof that a particular suspect was not involved in a crime.

Having a sophisticated test is only part of the process. The other essential element of any forensic investigation is that the operators must be properly trained, and the tests must be performed with scrupulous attention to detail and accuracy.


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