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Genetic Justice: DNA Data Banks, Criminal Investigations, and Civil Liberties Hardcover – November 22, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0231145206 ISBN-10: 0231145209 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; First Edition edition (November 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231145209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231145206
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,657,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Our ongoing fascination with TV forensics dramas has brought DNA into daily conversation. Krimsky and Simoncelli reach beyond pop culture to discuss how obtaining and using DNA has become common in criminal investigations. They discuss the civil-rights concerns raised by dragnets, in which DNA is obtained from hundreds (or thousands) of people in an effort to match to a crime, including the often surreptitious acquiring of DNA from family members of suspected persons. Another focus is courtroom cases in which DNA is erroneously claimed to provide a match. The experiences of Innocence Project legal volunteers are highlighted because they use DNA samples to set free wrongly convicted inmates, often fighting the system to do so. These are the most troubling passages, revealing how prosecutors prize DNA in some instances, only to largely ignore it in others. Firmly grounded in science, this inquiry proves that while DNA can be dramatic in its disclosures, it is not to be used lightly, as is? so often depicted in crime stories. --Colleen Mondor


In Genetic Justice, the authors provide a thorough discussion of the concerns they believe the DNA revolution and the use of DNA databases in law enforcement pose. While I do not agree with all of their policy conclusions, I commend the authors for their bold and uncompromising positions. Providing discussion of these sensitive criminal justice matters is critical for generating the best tools to serve society while maintaining those precious rights that we enjoy. I recommend the book to all who seek a better understanding of the impact of the genomic age on the criminal justice process.

(Bruce Budowle, executive director, Institute of Investigative Genetics, University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth)

Essential reading for anyone concerned with balancing public safety and personal freedom. The proliferation of DNA databases is not simply 'all good' or 'all bad.' Genetic Justice admirably deconstructs opposing arguments and then erects an inspiring yet realistic vision of justice.

(Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck, codirectors of the Innocence Project)

Genetic Justice provides a lucid assessment of forensic DNA data banking that counters our CSI-infatuated culture in which DNA testing is assumed to be infallible. The authors reveal the serious threats that misuses of modern genetic technology and DNA databases can pose to cherished constitutional rights. This book is essential reading for all who care about pursuing justice while ensuring fairness to our diverse citizenry and the protection of our individual right to privacy.

(Nadine Strossen, New York Law School and former president, American Civil Liberties Union)

Genetic Justice illuminates every important controversy in the way DNA has entered the criminal justice system: from arguments about a universal DNA databank to the efficacy of DNA dragnets, from whether the state has the right to search your 'abandoned DNA' to the pros and cons of familial searching. Moreover, it accomplishes this in an engaging style that requires no technical background. A vital reference work for the next decade.

(Troy Duster, New York University)

Sheldon Krimsky is one of the most intelligent and creative multidisciplinary scholars working in bioethics, genetics and society, science studies, and biotechnology. He always knows how to pick topics that are socially significant and require careful public attention.

(Phil Brown, author of Toxic Exposures: Contested Illnesses and the Environmental Health Movement)

Firmly grounded in science, this inquiry proves that while DNA can be dramatic in its disclosures, it is not to be used lightly, as is so often depicted in crime stories.


A thoughtful and informative read

(James A. Cox Midwest Book Review 1900-01-00)

For anyone concerned about DNA technology, evolving concepts of justice, or the erosion of the basic freedoms of our democracy, Genetic Justice is a book not to miss.

(Doug Pet Biopolitical Times)

The book offers a lucid and accurate presentation of DNA forensic technology that will be useful to any nonspecialist.

(Michael A. Goldman Science)

Genetic Justice constitutes the single most comprehensive articulation of the civil-liberties concerns associated with law-enforcement DNA databases and should, therefore, serve as a touchstone for debates about the spread of DNA profiling.

(Simon A. Cole American Scientist)

Engaging and informative.

(Charalambos P. Kyriacou Times Higher Education)

Thoroughly researched and well referenced, Genetic Justice distinguishes itself as an interesting and informative book on the history of the development of DNA testing, forensic DNA databanks, and the justice system's evolving approaches...

(Ananda M. Chakrabarty BioScience)

required reading

(Richard Lewontin New York Review of Books)

An important strength of this timely,engaging, and readable book--and what distinguishes it from some others--is the clarity with which it demonstrates how genomics findings in one discipline... are applied to others...

(Lundy Braun PsycCRITIQUES)

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in and concerned about the balance between the protection of rights such as privacy and autonomy and public safely and criminal justice imperatives...

(Wilhelm Peekhaus Science and Society 1900-01-00)

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Format: Hardcover
GENETIC JUSTICE: DNA DATA BANKS, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES surveys key issues surrounding DNA data banks established to identify violent criminals. Despite their initial establishment their circle of usefulness expanded to include people just arrested - not hardened criminals - and advances in biotechnology and forensic DNA science have led to further erosion of civil liberties. Two leading authors on medical ethics and science policy here consider how the U.S. is using DNA technology, offering insights on privacy issues raised by changed usage. College-level social issues and justice collections will find this an important acquisition.
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Much needed discussion of the civil rights side of DNA profiling, identification and database implementation. Many troubling issues that need attention, and I hope get the attention they need. Well written overall, but repetitive in places, and occasionally gets technical enough that a good dose of science background is helpful.
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