Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Dr. Steve Leigh

Abstract

The following analysis stemmed from a broad inquiry regarding the current state of forensic science. After examining some recent problems concerning traditional forensic techniques, including problems with established fingerprint, hair follicle, and bite mark analysis, it became evident that forensic science has shifted toward a new scientific paradigm. The concurrent rise of DNA profiling technology may be partially responsible for this shift. Hence, the purpose of this analysis is to determine the various aspects of forensic DNA profiling that have allowed it to become such a successful tool in the criminal justice system. While in pursuit of this information, I uncovered a number of individual stories and cases that help trace the rise of forensic DNA analysis. Certainly some of these stories are tragic and painful, told by victims or victim’s families hurt by violent crime. However, some of these stories, those told by lawyers and scientists, help chronicle the trials, tribulations, and controversies surrounding the introduction of a budding science into the courtroom. In tracing these unique stories I was able analyze the integration of a new scientific technique into the legal system through the eyes of the individuals involved, with the purpose of gaining new insights for forensic science in the future.

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