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posted by martyb on Wednesday January 22 2020, @03:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the 60%-likely-is-40%-unlikely dept.


How similar do you think you are to your second cousin? Or your estranged great aunt?

Would you like to have people assess your behaviour from what your great aunt has done? How would you feel if courts used data gained from them to decide how you are likely to behave in the future?

Scientists are making connections between a person's DNA and their tendencies for certain kinds of behaviour. At the same time, commercial DNA databases are becoming more common and police are gaining access to them.

When these trends combine, genetic data inferred about offenders from their relatives might one day be used by courts to determine sentences. In the future, the data from your great aunt could be used by a court to determine how severely you are punished for a crime.

[...] A Florida judge recently approved a warrant to search a genetic genealogy , GED Match. This American company has approximately 1.3 million users who have uploaded their personal genetic data, with the assumption of privacy, in the hope of discovering their family tree.

The court directly overruled these users' request for privacy and now the company is obliged to hand over the data.

[...] This might be used by the prosecution to make the case for a longer sentence. In some jurisdictions and circumstances, the prosecution may have a means of obtaining a sample of DNA directly from the offender. But where this is not legally possible without the offender's consent, the inference from relatives might fill a gap in the prosecution's case about how dangerous the offender is.

Your ability to be granted bail may hinge on your genes.

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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 22 2020, @05:50PM (2 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @05:50PM (#946910)

    What if

    What if we save the what ifs for actual reality. There's enough data out there to throw around the statistics - what's the actual jury biasing toward stricter sentencing based on genetic evidence? How does this compare to simple racial, or socio-economic biases that are already present, however illegal and court instructed against they may be?

    There's a 50 year old no good crackhead with my same last name in a small town in central Florida where I used to go somewhat frequently. I was asked more than once if we were related - I checked, we're not, at least not within the last 6 generations. However, if I ever were to go on trial in that town, with a randomly selected jury "of my peers," they'd certainly be biased by their knowledge of that one other guy with an uncommon last name the same as mine.

    People are prejudiced, and we're not going to legislate that away completely, but it can be reduced.

    Now, on the other hand, if your genetic profile shows a pre-disposition toward addictive behaviors and risk taking lifestyles, that might inform the court to direct you toward intervention programs that have been shown to have a much lower rate of recidivism than simple punitive incarceration. But, if your genetic profile shows no such pre-disposition, and you've already been through the programs, and you're still acting like a crackhead - might as well throw you in the hole and save the intervention program slots for people it might actually help.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by HiThere on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:31PM (1 child)

    by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:31PM (#946995) Journal

    The problem is, courts have shown little interest in effective crime reduction as opposed to punishment. This was driven by a combination of short term economics, politics, and the long term economic benefits of slave labor.

    It's difficult to even get courts to reject "medical treatments" that have no proven value, when employed against unpopular behavior. Look into various "treatments" for homosexuality over the decades.

    I suspect that a part of the problem is what's required to qualify as an "expert witness", but this is just a guess, based on some of the "expert witness" testimony that was, frankly, flaky. It's quite easy for an expert in one field (say law) to be fooled by a fake expert in another field...especially if they want to be convinced.

    Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 22 2020, @09:47PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @09:47PM (#947031)

      Friend of ours works in a liberal university town, surrounded by a highly conservative county. She does psychological counseling for drug offenders. When the offenders get put in her program, their recidivism rate drops by over 50%. The liberal university people are managing to barely fund her to run a shoestring program that gets to treat about 10% of the total offenders that come through the county courts. The conservative county would rather ship them straight to jail, then back to jail when they relapse.

      Maybe understandable, my neighbor in that town was a prison guard - apparently payed pretty well. His son recently graduated and is already working his way in to be a prison guard like his dad...

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