Inside the Cell: The Dark Side of Forensic DNA

Erin E. Murphy. Nation Books, $27.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-56858-469-0
Law professor Murphy shows that forensic DNA testing is far from an infallible, incorruptible scientific process, despite its depiction in popular media. Indeed, she argues extreme caution against putting much faith in this technological achievement, which she calls "neither savior nor cure-all," even as judges, juries, and prosecutors increasingly rely on it. An introductory technical discussion of the basics of DNA testing serves as a useful baseline for the rest of the book, in which Murphy describes the pervasive issues that complicate the narrative of DNA as incontrovertible evidence. These issues are myriad, from the perhaps unsurprising risk of sample contamination to wholly appalling cases of outright fraud. Murphy discusses the implications of DNA testing on issues of privacy and racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, especially in light of local, state, and national DNA databases; commercial uses of DNA testing; and law enforcement activities such as DNA dragnets. The book is full of cases and examples that propel Murphy's discussion forward and will no doubt unsettle the average citizen. Thankfully she also provides actionable recommendations for policy changes in a legal system that so far has little to say about the collection and uses of DNA. As Murphy says, "The technological and legal landscape are at the brink of a tectonic shift," and she encourages vigilance in the protection of our liberties. Agent: Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/19/2015
Release date: 10/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-1-56858-470-6
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