I saw this interesting item from Wired. A scientist has developed a DNA test that will reveal the race of the donor. The technology has been used to help solve several crimes, or at least narrow the range of suspects. Yet lots of people, including police and prosecutors, feel sort of squeamish about it. A prosecutor from Louisiana who acknowledges that without this DNA test the police likely would not have caught a serial killer he tried still says, “If I could push a button and make this technology disappear, I would.”
I don’t get this at all. How is this different than an eyewitness telling police that the suspect is a member of a certain race? Oh yeah — it’s more reliable. I suppose that one day there might be enough genetic mixing among the races (a situation that might exist now in some places) for the margin of error to grow too large for use as a forensic device. But assuming this test is reliable (the developer got 20 out of 20 right in a blind test), I don’t think it amounts to “profiling.”
It’s not like we’re saying that members of a certain race are more likely to have committed a crime; we’re saying that this particular person committed the crime, and among other characteristics we can tell from a DNA sample (sex, blood type, etc.), the suspect is probably a member of a certain race. Why isn’t it a good idea to have that additional information? Or am I missing something?