Race and Forensic DNA Databases

The racial disparity in criminal arrests and convictions in the United States—especially felony drug offenses— is echoed and potentially exaggerated in DNA databases.


Legal Materials:

US Supreme Court Brief by Council for Responsible Genetics Challenging, on Racial Justice Grounds, Taking DNA Upon Arrest 2013



Special Issue of GeneWatch on DNA Databanks and Race

Racial Disparities in Databanking of DNA Profiles by Michael T. Risher

The racial and civil liberties issues associated with these databases were the topics of a conference sponsored by CRG in June of 2008.  The event, titled Forensic DNA Databanks and Race: Issues, Abuses and Actions, brought together scientists, scholars, and racial justice activists.  Several keynote speakers also submitted full-length papers.  These landmark works are featured below:

DRUG ARRESTS AND DNA: Building Jim Crow’s Database by Harry G. Levine, Jon B. Gettman, Craig Reinarman and Deborah Peterson Small

Prejudice, Stigma and DNA Databases by Helen Wallace, GeneWatch UK

DNA Dragnets and Race: Larger Social Context, History and Future by Troy Duster

Can DNA ‘Witness’ Race?:  Forensic Uses of an Imperfect Ancestry Testing Technology by Duana Fullwiley


© 2014 Forensic Genetics Policy Initiative