Law enforcement agencies throughout the state will soon be allowed to use partial DNA matches to track down criminals—or people who are related to criminals, according to opponents of the new rules. Under the old rules, police could only pursue a suspect using DNA found at a crime scene if the recovered DNA is an exact match with one of the 343,000 genetic profiles contained in a state database of convicts. But starting this spring, police will be allowed to pursue suspects if DNA found at a crime scene is a partial match with someone already on file, meaning that innocent people whose relatives are in the database could come under investigation.
According to the Times, opponents of the new rules say partial DNA matches could be used to promote a "guilt-by-association approach to criminal justice that could result in the investigation of many innocent people." But supporters say it would put guilty people behind bars. "You could have a horrific crime—a serial rapist or killer—and you could have a clue in a lab that could identify the killer or rapist that we're currently not allowed to use," said Denise O'Donnell, chairwoman of the Commission on Forensic Science. She noted that each year, police are barred from investigating 10 to 15 partial matches that reveal that the DNA sample could belong to a relative of someone on the state database.