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Genomics & Criminal Justice
The week before this issue was published, an article in the Independent on Sunday quotes that ‘police files hold the DNA of more than 50,000 children who have committed no offence. And that's only the tip of the iceberg - Britain now has the largest DNA database in the world'. The article, which includes references to Mairi Levitt & Floris Tomasini's paper Bar-coded children (published in this special issue), highlights some of the growing concerns relating to the use of DNA by the police. As media and parliamentary discussion continues about who should be included on the National DNA Database, independent research into the use of genomic technologies by the criminal justice services is of increasing importance. In addition to the Levitt & Tomasini paper, many of the articles in this special issue focus directly on this subject. In my own extended editorial essay I compare and contrast the utility of such databases with concerns about privacy and data misuse. Jane Kaye then explores the issue of police access to confidential genetic data, while Michael Townsley and his colleagues present findings that demonstrate the strong utility of these databases in solving crime. Next a series of papers explore the wider application of genome-based technologies in the criminal justice setting, exploring issues such as racial profiling, behavioural genetics and genetic addiction.
Moving beyond this topic, into the wider field of genomics and criminal justice, Helen Codd provides an interesting analysis of attempts by prisoners to access artificial insemination treatments, whilst Hazel Biggs and Robin MacKenzie explore the legal problems faced by untrained carers when caring for someone who is close to death – whether as the result of a genetic disorder or otherwise. As the debates continue in the UK , Europe and the USA about euthanasia, assisted suicide and the right to die, end of life issues are increasingly important when considered in the light of many hereditary conditions that can lead to a debilitating death. The breadth of topics included demonstrate that genomic technologies have ramifications within the criminal justice system that effect us all, from the beginning of life through to the end of life.
When proposing a special or thematic issue for a journal, especially one that is to be filled by an open call for papers, there are a number of concerns. Firstly, will the editors of the journal like your idea? Secondly, will there be sufficient interest in your idea that you will have enough papers to produce the issue. Thirdly, will there be sufficient interest in your idea anyone will want to read it?
To my relief and satisfaction, the editors of this journal did like my proposal. We received a number of high quality papers, from a range of distinguished authors, and – with thanks to a panel of peer reviewers and the ever-patient and efficient editorial staff of the journal – the issue is now complete.
The answer to my third concern remains to be seen. I hope you will feel that we did a good job.
Anthony Mark Cutter
1. Marie Woolf and Sophie Goodchild , Surveillance society: The DNA files, The Independent on Sunday , 07 May 2006
Biographies for Vol.2, No.1
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We are currently welcoming submissions for the next issue.
Please see Call for Papers for further details.
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|Page updated: 16 May, 2006|