For a number of years, the United States Justice system has recorded a number of wrongful convictions in its jurisdiction. Steckler (2013) argues that this is so but such cases are on the minimum and the legal task force directs all they have into ensuring legal justice delivery. However, in such instances no matter how rare, the damages caused are permanent and the wrongfully convicted have to live with this. The only beneficiary to wrong convictions is the actual proprietor who gets to live free of accountability to the offense. This is dangerous in its own sense because the proprietor is will still be able to cause more harm and in turn, add more people to the list of victims (Steckler, 2013).
Keeping this in mind, there is greater cause for the legal system to ensure all processes leading to convictions are right and just. In addition, while the old methods entailing such as witness interrogation and confessions can lead to an arrest, they are still unreliable as humans can at times be at error. The police departments’ organization of a lineup is a good example of criminal identification by witnesses who identify the proprietor if present in the lineup. However, there have been developments in collecting evidence, analyzing it and finally using the information as evidence to bring proprietors to justice (Cole, 2010). Such methods include DNA fingerprinting, latent finger printing, brain fingerprinting, and voice recognition among others. Unlike humans, recent technology use in identifying criminals is more reliable to ensure proper convictions as long as the crime scene remains intact (Steckler, 2013).
The justice system has recorded both pros and cons in using technology as a method of identifying criminals. McQuade (2004) in the article ‘Technology-enabled Crime, Policing and Security’ says that each method has its own advantages and disadvantages because their uses are different. For instance, Fingerprinting entails placing the desired finger on ink and laying the print on paper while DNA fingerprinting requires the use of a suspect’s bodily fluids (Birrell, 2012). Fingerprinting is simple and instant while DNA sampling takes time and requires a certain level of expertise without which contamination can occur.
The major advantage is the high degree of accuracy the methods provide in the whole identification process. Steckler (2013) says the time taken for proper criminal identification has shortened considerably over the last decade because of the high accuracy degree recorded in most. Biometric identification is such type of methods used to identify criminals. Its accuracy finds basis on the uniqueness in collected information for each individual. With accuracy, comes efficiency (Steckler, 2013). This is so especially in cases where there is more than one suspect. With this quality, the chances of quick identification increase by an estimated fifty percent (McQuade, 2004).
Issue of finances is the main cause of disadvantages in identifying criminals using technology. Equipment and other materials are vital for a successful analysis of collected evidence (Birrell, 2012). For instance, hand geometry equipment is very expensive making the particular method the rarest one used. Another one is DNA profiling and use for criminal identification. While only experts can operate the equipment, the equipment needs proper maintenance for durability and accuracy in generated information. This means that aside from purchasing capital, more money must be set aside for the mentioned purposes. Finally, most technological methods are too intrusive. A good exemplar is fingerprinting, a method that most people are afraid of because of its association with crime. In the end, even those who have no connection to a crime undergo analysis because of the universal databases used in the same.
Regardless of their being on the wrong side of the law, criminals are still citizens and are therefore, rightfully protected by the constitution. This is the argument set forth by most critics of the criminal identification methods used in the country especially in the case of using DNA samples. The right to privacy is a component of the constitution and has since been a sensitive discussion topic. Laureau (2000) argues that hereditary diseases are detectable through DNA analysis. Therefore, everyone has a right to his own genome and information regarding the same should not be used in any way without their consent. Other rights include those of dignity, health and physical integrity all of which, according to (Laureau, 2000) are violated the instance a suspect is subjected to bodily infringement to acquire DNA samples.
Another violation of constitutional rights occurs with the use of cameras and wiretap surveillances without a person’s awareness. According to Savage’s article, ‘U.S. Tries to Make It Easier to Wiretap the Internet’ surveillance is no longer done secretly instead, this particular technology is often done with the public eye watching. A good example is the closed circuit television (CCTV), a common form of surveillance in most countries including the United States. An advantage to these replicas of the human eye and ears is the provision of evidence to any committed crime or in other cases prevents crimes from happening as people fear being caught and in turn helps in crime control. A disadvantage on the other hand, comes into play when as stated above; this technology invades someone’s privacy especially without his or her awareness.
The term due process refers to the requirements that a state has to meet with regard to the legal rights of citizens within its jurisdiction. In other words, with due process, the individual rights of people living in a certain state are protected because the government is legally prohibited from misuse of power (Laureau, 2000). In due process the accused has right to be informed on reason of arrest and in turn, a fair hearing where defense can take place. The person is also innocent until proven guilty and can challenge the provided evidence with some of his own. Wiretap and camera surveillance provides evidence that can be damaging to the accused and bring bias to the court proceedings. Although the provided evidence can be counteracted, the damage will be done already and in turn, a violation of rights and a person is entitled to as per the constitution (Laureau, 2000).
News coverage aired in ABC News on 26th January 2013 carried reports on surveillance use to capture murder suspect Smith Jason. According to the coverage, police installed the hardware in areas Smith frequented including his own home. That is how they managed to get his confession to the murder and because he was indeed guilty, the state chose to overlook the means used to acquire the necessary evidence (Dolak). This caused uproar among American citizens who argued that tapping into a person’s home was not right and against the constitution. The suspect was obviously unaware that the Federal Bureau of investigations (FBI) agents were watching his every move even in places he thought were safest, such as his home. This was a violation of all rights mentioned above especially one to privacy (Laureau, 2000).
With the implemented technologies, positive changes are present in criminal identification and in turn, crime control. This is due to the provided efficiency by the technology and in turn the knowledge that these methods exist among locals. One way to control crime entails successful identification of criminals using solid evidence and justice delivery. If for instance a rapist is identified through a DNA sample left on his victim, justice can be rightfully delivered.
On the other hand, without proper means of identifying the wrong doers the police department cannot arrest the right criminal. This means that the crime proprietor will be free to commit other crimes (Cole, 2010). With regard to awareness of the technology in criminal identification, it is clear that criminals hesitate from doing crimes fearing arrest and conviction (Steckler, 2013). In general, with technology use, the justice system has seen successful crime control in all areas it is implemented.
There are more advantages than there are disadvantages regarding the use of technology in the criminal identification process. This gives enough evidence to the fact that societies will be better off if the methods are implemented in the legal system. The government should therefore put more effort in ensuring the methods are carried out in a fair and just manner. At the same time, despite evidence linking a person to a particular crime, the said person still has rights as an American citizen and a human being. If these are made part of training, law enforcers have a better chance of carrying out their duties properly without violating any of the said rights. Finally yet importantly, the use of technology has helped see a decline on the level of crimes while at the same time, has allowed some control on the same. Criminals are punished and the wronged get to have some justice.
In conclusion, different methods have been implemented in criminal identification with the most recent ones being modern and involving technology. While most critics argue that the methods are not humane with reference to the constitution, the recorded outcomes are satisfactory because of successful crime control. There are a variety of these methods meaning that if one cannot be used another method can easily suffice. Eventually, we are better off with these methods than we are without them, as after all, the good of many cannot be compromised for that of one possible criminal.
Birrell, E. (2012). Balancing Law Enforcement with Individual Privacy. Technology and the Fourth Amendment .
Cole, S. (2010). Fingerprint Identification and the Criminal Justice System: Historical Lessons for the DNA Debate. Irvine: University of Carlifornia.
Dolak, Kevin “Private Surveillance Cameras Catching More Criminals.” ABC News. WCVB, New York. 26 Jan 2013.
Lareu, M. G. (2000). Ethical-legal problems of DNA databases in criminal investigation. Journal of Medical Ethics , 266-271.
McQuade, S. (2004). Technology-enabled Crime, Policing and Security. The Journal of Technology Studies .
Steckler, C. (2013). IACP Summit on Wrongful Convictions. The Police Chief, vol. LXXX, no. 4,.