Summary Findings of the DNA Field Experiment

Due to differences in policies, procedures and experiment implementation among the five jurisdictions, outcomes varied, sometimes substantially. However, an average of the five sites produced additional findings (see Major Findings from the DNA Field Experiment ), including:

  • DNA samples collected by patrol officers were no less likely to yield good evidence than those collected by forensic technicians.
  • Among the cases in which biological evidence was collected, fingerprint evidence was collected in one-third of the cases.
    • Comparing all cases:
      • DNA was five times as likely to ID a suspect
      • DNA was nine times as likely to yield an arrest
    • Comparing cases with both types of evidence collected:
      • DNA was twice as effective as fingerprints in identifying suspects
      • DNA yielded three times as many arrests
  • The average case cost to process DNA from the time the evidence was sent to the lab until an arrest was $1,397; there was little variation in costs, except that outsourcing (sending samples to a private laboratory) was more expensive.
  • The additional cost of a new suspect identification was $4,514 (see full report for explanation and context [pdf, 164 pages]).
  • The additional cost of a new arrest was $14,178 (see full report for explanation and context [pdf, 164 pages]).
  • The additional cost of a new case that was accepted for prosecution was $6,913 (see full report for explanation and context [pdf, 164 pages]).
  • The larger the state DNA database (percentage of state population), the more likely that an identification was made; this trend was revealed when comparing across sites and over the course of the study as California rapidly expanded its database.

Go to Evaluating the DNA Field Experiment

Date Modified: June 16, 2008