A Not So Perfect Match

Stephen Mercer disagrees. “Of course they’re gonna come up with analogies that seem to do away with any sense of wrongdoing or any sense of violation of privacy by the government. So, they say, ‘Oh, well this is like a partial plate, and we’re just following up on these leads….,” he says.
“And what’s wrong with that?” Stahl asks.

“Because it’s not a partial plate. We’re talking about DNA. DNA is different. DNA contains a vast amount of intensely personal information,” Mercer says.

Scrooge comes to Prince George’s County

Juvenile courts have become real-life Scrooges to young adults trying to turn their lives around after troubled childhoods. The courts are imposing unnecessary administrative fees and subjecting those unable to pay to harsh collection penalties that disrupt families, schools and work. A juvenile court is responsible for the rehabilitation of youths, not preventing successful — […]

The controversial DNA search that helped nab the ‘Grim Sleeper’ is winning over skeptics

He roamed the streets of Sacramento for six years, raping women as they walked to work or headed home from parties in the dark. To keep them from fighting back, he smashed their heads with rocks and wrapped his hands around their necks. Sometimes he threatened them with a gun. Police became frustrated, unable to identify him even though they had his DNA […]

How forensic genealogy led to an arrest in the Phoenix ‘Canal Killer’ case

The man accused in Phoenix’s “Canal Killer” case may have his ancestors to blame for his 2015 arrest. Records show forensic genealogy was key in leading police to Bryan Patrick Miller, a man now facing a death-penalty trial in the early 1990s slayings of Angela Brosso and Melanie Bernas. Using a method with little precedent in the world of […]

Policing DNA, Digital Government, “Super Gang” Trial

Local police jurisdictions have increasingly been creating their own DNA databases, which exist outside of federal regulation. Our guest Frederick Harran is the director of public safety of the Bensalem Police Department in Pennsylvania, and his department began creating a DNA database in 2010. Also joining us is Stephen Mercer, chief attorney for the Forensics Division of the Maryland Office of the […]

Familial DNA Testing

The practice of “familial searching” is causing a conflict between solving crimes and protecting privacy. Police can now take DNA from a crime scene and compare it to millions of DNA samples in a government database. If there is even a partial match, that could lead to the criminal by way of his or her […]