In the early 1990s collecting DNA samples from convicted offenders began as a trial and quickly expanded to all 50 states later in the decade. DNAâ€™s success of positively matching criminalsâ€™ DNA to crimes escalated this effective crime fighting technique. Today at least 170 local crime labs across the country run DNA samples through a national database called CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) to find matches and convict criminals. Nationwide CODIS has collected over 2.7million profiles of which 2.6 million were from convicted offender profiles.
In the state of Minnesota there are two CODIS labs that have collected 39,557 offender profiles and aided 360 investigations. Recently, in Ramsey County, Minnesota, a 44-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison for sexual assault and burglary. The collected DNA evidence from a ski mask he wore during one of the crimes and from his rape victim’s clothing was crucial in convicting him. This man was a serial rapist who had other rape convictions dating back to 1976.
Last year Minnesota was awarded $1.1 million from the Justice Department for DNA grants to help solve crime and exonerate the innocent. An additional $190,119 was awarded to Minnesota to improve criminal justice forensic services.
DNA is clearly a remarkable crime-fighting tool because it allows police to solve otherwise unsolvable crimes. Police can focus their resources on the guilty as well as protect the public from serious violent offenders. Finally, DNA can exonerate the innocent before they are ever charged or convicted of a crime.