A critical question in the development of state DNA index system (SDIS) databases has been weighing the additional crime solving and deterrence benefits of expansion against civil libertarian concerns that SDIS databases reinforce racial disparities in criminal justice involvement and become, in effect, genetic surveillance tools. To help understand this issue better, the authors provide criminal justice policymakers with a tool to view how state policies, including familial DNA searches, affect the size and racial composition. Users of the tool can select a state policy to view; designate policy measures; specify common criminal offenses; and refine the model based on recidivism rate, conviction rate, and the average number of first-degree relatives offenders have residing in-state. The model shows the average population, total unique arrests, and an estimate of the population that would be searchable in the SDIS database if the selected options had been active for the years specified.
This tool was developed by the Justice Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.
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