Jennifer Doleac / The Deterrent Effects of DNA Databases: Evidence from the U.S. and Denmark / 09.26.17

Jennifer Doleac is an assistant professor of Public Policy and Economics at the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, and Founding Director of the Justice Tech Lab. Doleac’s research focuses on the economics of crime and discrimination, and particularly on the impacts of technology and surveillance on public safety.

Talk: “The Deterrent Effects of DNA Databases: Evidence from the U.S. and Denmark”

Abstract: Every U.S. state and many countries have databases of criminal offenders’ DNA profiles. The goal of this law enforcement tool is to quickly and accurately match individuals with DNA evidence found at crime scenes, thereby increasing the likelihood that offenders are caught for their crimes. These databases receive widespread attention in the media and popular culture, but there has been little rigorous analysis of their impact on criminal behavior.  Doleac exploits the details and timing of DNA database expansions in the U.S. and Denmark to measure the effects of DNA profiling on individuals’ subsequent criminal behavior. She shows that DNA databases deter crime by a broad array of profiled offenders, reduce crime rates, and are more cost-effective than traditional law enforcement tools.

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