Essay Sample on Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)

Published: 2023-09-26
Essay Sample on Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Forensic science Software Police Cyber security
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1756 words
15 min read

The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) mixes computer technology and forensic science into a tool that can be used to link violent crimes (Barkow, 2013). The CODIS has made it easy for local, state, and federal forensic laboratories to electronically exchange and compare DNA profiles, hence linking serial violent crimes to known offenders and each other. Through the use of the National DNA Index System, also known as the CODIS, it has become extremely easy through the help of the National Missing Persons DNA Database to identify missing and unidentified persons (Barkow, 2013).

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There are criminal cases where biological evidence gets recovered from the crime scene, and it is in such situations that CODIS is used to investigate leads. Under such circumstances, the CODIS produces matches among profiles that can be used in linking crime scenes together in the Forensic Index, with a possible impact of identifying serial offenders (Fine, 2011). Based on the established matches from the CODIS tool, police from various jurisdictions can use such data in coordinating their respective investigations. Besides, they can also share the leads that they managed to develop independently. The matches made between Offender and Forensic Index provide the identity of suspected criminals to the investigators (Fine, 2011). Since NDIS does not store personal identification information such as names, the qualified DNA analysts who work in the local, federal and state laboratories, and who are responsible for the sharing of matching profiles take charge of contacting each other to confirm the candidate’s match (Romsos & Vallone, 2018).

CODIS Development and Design

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) provided the law enforcement community with CODIS, a national service for matching DNA, made up of databases with DNA profiles from convicted offenders, crime scenes, and missing persons. The CODIS got initiated in 1990 as a pilot project. In 1994 through the passage of the DNA Identification Act, the FBI’s authority to establish a National DNA Index System was formalized for law enforcement.

In 1998, the NDIS got operational (Grogan, 2019). In this Act, the FBI was authorized to establish an index of DNA identification records for criminal convicts, and the analysis of DNA samples recovered from unidentified human remains and crime scenes. Further, this Act specified that the index has only DNA information based on the review conducted in line with the Quality Assurance Standards of the FBI (Campbell et al., 2018).

The development of the CODIS by the FBI was done in three levels to enable the federal, local, and state crime laboratories to electronically compare DNA profiles. The flow of the DNA profiles is that they flow from the state or local level and move upward through the hierarchy to the state and national levels (Scudder et al., 2018). An example is where the local laboratory located in the Palm Beach of Florida Office of Sheriffs sends their samples to the Tallahassee state laboratory. The Tallahassee state laboratory is the final level, which implies that it uploads the collected and analyzed samples to the NDIS (Fine, 2011). The laboratory’s profiles should be uploaded to the NDIS before the system as a whole gets benefited.

Does the DNA Databank System Help Solve Crimes?

In the current FBI maintained DNA database known as the CODIS, there are case samples collected from rape kits or crime scenes, and individual samples collected from arrestees or convicted felons (Solomon et al., 2011). All these DNA samples get automatically compared by the system’s software as new samples stream in. CODIS had produced more than 45,400 hits as of February 2007, and these hits helped in over 46,300 FBI investigations (Grogan, 2019).

Nevertheless, most of the TV shows have misrepresented the concept of DNA analysis, with most of them passing the message that such an analysis takes place in an hour, not the case. Instead, there are several backlog samples in the US waiting to be keyed into the database (Romsos & Vallone, 2018). Surprisingly, some of these cases have outlasted their limitation statutes, meaning that even if these samples could be used in solving a crime, the crime can no longer get tried.

This postponement raises the problem of the legitimacy of resolutions of limitations. These rules were built up when huge amounts of physical proof were required to coordinate a suspect as an example. When broadened timespans fundamentally diminished law authorization’s capacity to discover a match, just as the probability of effective indictment (Solomon et al., 2011). With the appearance of DNA databanks and the chance of putting away examples inconclusively, the very idea of a resolution of impediment presently appears to be amazingly obsolete (Campbell et al., 2018). Of course, several other issues can get debated about databanks or DNA banking.

One such issue is whether to indefinitely store the original tissue sample even after entering the DNA profile into the database. According to critics, they believe that there is a threat to genetic privacy (Romsos & Vallone, 2018). However, proponents argue that future typing methods of DNA will, without a doubt, be developed and that new techniques may be used to reanalyze the old samples. Besides, the reopening of old cases is another issue at hand since the new DNA-based pieces of evidence may trigger such instances.

The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)

The FBI’s CODIS is made up of three levels, the database used in storing the DNA profiles of individuals involved in crimes, including the local, state, and federal databases (Norrgard, 2008). In the local database, it houses all the DNA information collected and analyzed from within the local criminal justice system, and they are known as the Local DNA Index System (LDIS). The state-level databases have the data collected and analyzed at the local criminal justice system level, then disseminated to the state level system database known as the State DNA Index System (SDIS) (Grogan, 2019). The last level is the federal level, also known as the National DNA Index System (NDIS) and which is at the top of the hierarchy where CODIS refers to, and it is where the exchange and comparison of DNA take place nationally (Campbell et al., 2018).

There are different sources from where the DNA used in creating the profiles are collected then housed within the CODIS databases. Some of the sources include the individuals classified by the investigative officers as missing, those related to them, and the convicted felons. The DNA can be collected by taking hair samples or any other biological material from the missing person’s items, or DNA sample from a relative to be compared to an unknown sample collected by law enforcement in connection with the missing person. There are also DNA samples that government officials enter in the CODIS system under different qualifications but mostly done to identify contamination in case of any such occurrences.

A genetic profile is created from any sample collected from an offender, victim, or samples collected from a crime scene. The function of CODIS then comes in here; it is used to run the DNA profile and check if it matches any known profile within the databases (Giannelli, 2007). When a match is found from the database, a confirmation process begins to verify the existence of the unknown profile within the DNA database, followed by the individual’s identification. In case the confirmation goes successfully, the investigative officers will obtain the identity of the individual whose DNA matched (Giannelli, 2007). However, that is not the end of the matching.

Further matching of the DNA is conducted with other databases such as the state’s database of crime scene DNA profiles known as the Forensic Index in a bid to discover if the same suspect has other crimes committed in the past. If the DNA sample is collected from a source that is not the offender, then the process becomes prolonged as the information has to be used in the advancement of the investigatory process by allowing the obtainment of a court order for the collection of DNA sample from the suspect (Norrgard, 2008). Once the sample is collected from the suspect, it is a known sample. It is analyzed by a forensic lab to establish that the genetic match established previously is correct and matches the person (Scudder et al., 2018). This final confirmation allows the use of the biological sample found at the scene of the crime in a court of court in an evidentiary manner.


The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) mixes computer technology and forensic science into a tool that can link violent crimes. There are criminal cases where biological pieces of evidence get recovered from the crime scene, and it is in such situations that CODIS is used to investigate leads. The FBI’s CODIS is made up of three levels, the database used in storing the DNA profiles of individuals involved in crimes, including the local, state, and federal databases. DNA proof is anything but difficult to acquire because hereditary material is found in every single human cell, save red platelets.

Subsequently, when we desert little natural bits of ourselves, these bits can be used to recognize us and connect us to the spots we have been. With present-day innovation, the measure of DNA required for investigation can be obtained from even a minuscule organic example, which permits police to coordinate crime scene proof with suspects. Nevertheless, because forensic sciences are science to a great extent established in probabilities, even an affirmed “coordinate” does not gracefully give solid verification of blame.

Likewise, DNA databases intended to rearrange the way toward associating past criminals to ongoing wrongdoings are laden with concerns including individual hereditary rights, just as issues identified with deferred test section, the two of which prevent a definitive convenience of these databases (Spedden, 2017). Therefore, even though forensic science is unquestionably essential to the advanced equity framework, its consequences and moral inquiries are subjects of proceeding with conversation inside the logical, law authorization, and lawful networks.


Barkow, R. E. (2013). Prosecutorial Administration: Prosecutor Bias and the Department of Justice. Va. L. Rev., 99, 271.

Campbell, R., Feeney, H., Pierce, S. J., Sharma, D. B., & Fehler-Cabral, G. (2018). Tested at last: How DNA evidence in untested rape kits can identify offenders and serial sexual assaults. Journal of interpersonal violence, 33(24), 3792-3814.

Fine, G. A. (Ed.). (2011). Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory's Forensic DNA Case Backlog. DIANE Publishing.

Giannelli, P. C. (2007). Regulating Crime Laboratories: The Impact of DNA Evidence. JL & Pol'y, 15, 59., L. (2019). Ethical Implications of CODIS.

Norrgard, K. (2008). Forensics, DNA fingerprinting, and CODIS. Nature Education, 1(1), 35.

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