Literature Review on the Equal Protection Clause and DNA Evidence
The key objective of the Equal Protection Clause is to help the US citizens to fight for their right of non-denial when it comes to the jurisdiction and protection of the law. Therefore, the basic aspect of this clause is an identical way of treating the individuals in the court (Tani, 2015). The violation of this law can be race-based, religion-based, or contingent on any other sensitive individual characteristics. Regardless of all the premises, it should be noted that the Equal Protection Clause only promotes equal employment of the law and not an equal treatment of the citizens. Consequently, the verdicts that were reached while taking into account the Equal Protection Clause are doomed to be discriminative in one way or another (Tani, 2015). The 14th Amendment and the application of this particular clause helped the Supreme Court to protect civil rights as well. The constitutionality of the Equal Protection Clause is a questionable term. This is why the Supreme Court majorly depends on the application of this legal instrument (Tani, 2015). This clause also has a great impact on the outcomes of some cases connected with the collection of DNA samples.
The Equal Protection Clause does not answer all the questions that appear throughout the processing of DNA samples, but it definitely limits the government in terms of applying constitutional approaches when it comes to pivotal forensic evidence (Marion & Oliver, 2012). The process of obtaining DNA samples is considered to be a common thing among both the Supreme Court and the law enforcement agency. This ultimately ends up in the exploitation of the evidence and may be seen as unconstitutional by several individuals. Not to mention, the Supreme Court is the decisive legislative instance that is in charge of letting the police officers obtain DNA samples (Gaines, 2014). Not all of the US Supreme Court judges were in line when it was time to resolve the issue of the constitutionality of DNA sample collection. The final verdict of the Supreme Court judges accepted the warrantless procedure of obtaining DNA samples and equaled it to photographing the crime scene and taking fingerprints (Gaines, 2014). In this case, the gravity of the crime became the key factor, and this imposed a variety of limitations on the US legislative system due to the subtle illegitimacy of the approach.
The Analysis of the Criminal Justice Policies
The analysis of the Equal Protection Clause revealed that it is based on the typical two-step investigation that is applied in the majority of the US Supreme Court cases (Tani, 2015). It needs to be done to identify the constitutional limits of the case and foresee the potential outcomes. The core bottleneck of this criminal justice policy is the issue of the applicability of the Equal Protection Clause. On a bigger scale, the decisions are made by the government, and all the actions performed by the government rely on the Equal Protection Clause (Beard, 2012). After this, the government has to define if the decision complies with the requirements of the clause. The most important characteristic of the Equal Protection Clause is its dependency on government classification. This means that one of the parties may exploit the weaknesses of the other party and come out with winning the case (Tani, 2015).
In turn, the DNA sample collection raises several legal questions that are dependent on the logical implications of this high-potential forensic criminal justice instrument (Carmen & Hemmens, 2016). This means that the verdicts reached based on DNA analysis may be wrong and biased (which interconnects the use of DNA samples and the application of the Equal Protection Clause). The constitutionality of the DNA laws is questionable and the US Supreme Court is aware of this issue. They expect to address DNA laws as soon as possible and re-evaluate the correctness of the court decisions which involve DNA evidence (Carmen & Hemmens, 2016). The analysis of the current DNA collection criminal justice policy showed that the state laboratories and law enforcement agencies have to join their forces and reconsider their perception of the law. The courts, on the other hand, will have to re-evaluate their interpretation of DNA evidence and improve their decision-making practices within the framework of the cases involving DNA samples.
Constitutional Issues Connected to the Policies
The Equal Protection Clause is aimed to protect the citizens of the United States in court. Nevertheless, it is not a secret that the constitutionality of the verdicts reached in courts all over the country is controversial and triggers disbelief (Tani, 2015). The biggest constitutional issue of the Equal Protection Clause is its government-focused approach. Despite the rightness of such a decision, this pronouncement often limits the civil liberties of one of the parties involved in the case (Collins & Ringhand, 2013). Similar to DNA evidence used in court hearings, the Equal Protection Clause is a powerful instrument, but it is repeatedly exploited by the government to make decisions that satisfy the outlooks of the government and not the views of the plaintiff/ defendant. It is hard to imagine, but the legal instrument that was aimed to reduce misperception in the courts turned out to be a serious misperception in itself (Tani, 2015). Instead of protecting the 14th Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause is habitually used to test the flexibility of the US Supreme Court judges when it comes to reaching the verdict. This does not mean that the Equal Protection Clause is bad and the government should ban it. Quite on the contrary, the government should address the constitutional issues inherent in the clause itself and the methodologies of application of this legal instrument (Tani, 2015).
First, in defense of DNA sample collection methodology, it should be noted that the use of DNA evidence became one of the most effective strategies to support crime prevention strategies and minimize the number of grave crimes such as homicides and rapes (Gardner & Anderson, 2016). Nevertheless, there are constitutional issues that limit the effectiveness of this approach and should be addressed by the government as soon as possible to trigger more positive outcomes in criminal investigations (Siegel, 2017). From the existing constitutional restrictions, the inability to make a correct decision based on a DNA sample alone is the most serious. This limitation is contingent on some additional factors that are influenced by the external state of affairs.
The government should realize that the number of unanalyzed DNA samples grows annually and practically nothing is done to mitigate the adverse impact of this issue (Gardner & Anderson, 2016). Moreover, it is reasonable to take into consideration the current state of the technologies that are now used in the majority of crime laboratories. The experts are not able to process the DNA evidence at high speed which may lead to incorrect rulings in the court (Siegel, 2017). The criminal justice process is directly affected by this constitutional issue and is exposed to recurrent delays. The existing methods of collecting and processing DNA evidence are outdated and should be revised to certify the development of this methodology (Siegel, 2017).
The majority of the personnel at the laboratories do not possess the critical skills necessary to process DNA samples. In perspective, this leads to the evolvement of the constitutional issue of exploiting DNA evidence in court. Therefore, it is not surprising that judicial bias is still in its place, and partiality is not removed from the criminal justice process (Siegel, 2017). Reconsidering the employment practices and DNA processing methodologies will positively affect the constitutional upsides of this approach.
The Effects of the Policies on the Criminal Justice Operations
The impact of the Equal Protection Clause on criminal justice operations cannot be overrated. It helps the legal apparatus of the US to adjust expungement procedures, collect and analyze data properly, and acknowledge the key trends in the criminal laws (Tani, 2015). Therefore, the effect of the policies based on the 14th Amendment and the use of the Equal Protection Clause can be characterized as a legitimate implementation of the strict guidelines imposed by the constitutional principles. In the end, the constitutionality of the judicial decisions which involve the Equal Protection Clause does exist, and this may be considered the key strength of the clause (Tani, 2015). There is virtually no other approach similar to the Equal Protection Clause. The impressiveness of the efficient use of the clause is also highlighted by several critical cases heard in the Supreme Court of the United States of America and its direct involvement in presidential elections (Tani, 2015).
The collection of DNA samples helps to authorize the criminals and store all the necessary data for an unlimited period (Gardner & Anderson, 2016). The impact of the employment of DNA analysis is evident at all jurisdictional levels (local, state, federal). This policy became the cornerstone of the current criminal justice approach and is widely used all across the country (Lynch, 2013). The constitutionality of this approach has to be proven from time to time, but its overall impact on criminal justice operations cannot slip past unnoticed. The majority of DNA samples is now carefully stored and allows to identify recidivists and prevent grave crimes (Carmen & Hemmens, 2016). The process of a non-warrant DNA sample obtaining significantly reduced the amount of time spent on the investigative litigation and allowed the law enforcement agency to concentrate on crime prevention strategies instead of following the outdated procedures and allowing any external factors to interfere with the investigation.
Possible Improvements to the Current Criminal Justice
Several improvements may positively affect the application of the Equal Protection Clause. First, the government should come up with a flexible strategy aimed to calculate adequate compensations for the victims of unfair treatment. In perspective, this may be seen as a way to equalize the US citizens’ conduct and eradicate the indicators of prejudice and discrimination (Tani, 2015). It will not be superfluous to mention that the Supreme Court possesses the required authority to apply these measures. Nevertheless, the government should foresee the potential constitutional violations and develop a set of countermeasures intended to protect the Equal Protection Clause from unconstitutional behavior (Tani, 2015). Moreover, the clause can be revised in terms of public schools, where discrimination is rather common. The remaining impact of bias and unfair treatment can be reduced by the flexibility of the decision-making apparatus (Smith, 2012). All the actions proposed by the government should be aimed at the effective use of the Equal Protection Clause. Ultimately, this clause may become the best approach to protect the freedoms of US citizens regardless of its government-focused outlook.
Several improvements can be applied to the DNA evidence collection policy. First of all, the experts should monitor the conditions in which the samples are stored and evade the sample overload. It may also be useful to update the technical aspect of the laboratories. This will help the employees to process DNA evidence faster and eliminate a number of the situations in which such delays critically impact the criminal justice process (Siegel, 2017). The government has to research the area to identify the opportunities for improvement. DNA sample processing is of pivotal importance to US criminal justice, and the key objective of the legislative apparatus is to make the best use of this powerful asset (Siegel, 2017). The government should also allocate resources to initiate a special training program for the employees who work in this area. Overall, these improvements are aimed at the development of the most effective evidence processing methods and well-organized defendant support (Siegel, 2017). On a bigger scale, the most important problem for the government is to get rid of unfair practices and rely on objective data amalgamated with the flexibility of the US Supreme Court judges.
The Impact of the Policies on Social Justice
The impact of the Equal Protection Clause and DNA evidence on social justice cannot go unnoticed. Even though their separate influence on criminal justice and social justice systems are obvious, the way these two approaches interconnect is way more important. The 14th Amendment has been designed to protect the interests of individuals who are exposed to unfair treatment. Nonetheless, in real-life examples, the decisions are often made in favor of the government, and the use of DNA evidence majorly subsidizes to the duality of the current legislative system. The Equal Protection Clause may not be able to protect an individual whose DNA was found at the crime scene. Depending on the gravity of the delinquency, the Supreme Court can reach a verdict that is prejudicial from the defendant’s point of view but seems objective to the judges (who represent the government’s point of view) and vice versa. Practically, there is no effective solution that can be applied to mitigate the adverse influence of the intersection between the Equal Protection Clause and the exploitation of DNA evidence. In real life, there is no ability to objectively assess the influence of the combination of these legal instruments. Moreover, there is no clear evidence of whether these two notions are interconvertible or mutually exclusive.
Beard, C. A. (2012). An economic interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company.
Carmen, V. R., & Hemmens, C. (2016). Criminal procedure: Law and practice. Boston, MA: Cengage.
Collins, P. M., & Ringhand, L. A. (2013). Supreme Court confirmation hearings and constitutional change. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Gaines, L. K. (2014). Homeland security: A new criminal justice mandate. In S. L. Mallicoat & C. L. Gardiner (Eds.), Criminal justice policy (pp. 67-87). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Gardner, T. J., & Anderson, T. M. (2016). Criminal evidence: Principles and cases. Boston, MA: Cengage.
Lynch, M. (2013). Science, truth, and forensic cultures: The exceptional legal status of DNA evidence. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 44(1), 60-70.
Marion, N. E., & Oliver, W. M. (2012). The public policy of crime and criminal justice (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Siegel, L. J. (2017). Criminology: Theories, patterns and typologies. Boston, MA: Cengage.
Smith, T. (2012). America’s mission: The United States and the worldwide struggle for democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Tani, K. (2015). Administrative equal protection: Federalism, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the rights of the poor. Cornell Law Review, 100(825), 827-890.