Do DNA databases deter crime and limit recidivism?

Anne Sofie Tegner Anker, Jennifer L. Doleac, and Rasmus Landersø tell us yes:

This paper studies the effects of adding criminal offenders to a DNA database. Using a large expansion of Denmark’s DNA database, we find that DNA registration reduces recidivism within the following year by as much as 43% and it also increases the probability that offenders are identified. We thereby estimate the elasticity of crime with respect to the detection probability to be -2.7, implying that a 1% higher detection probability reduces crime by more than 2%. We also find that DNA registration makes offenders more likely to find employment, enroll in education, and live in a more stable family environment.

Via Ilya Novak (and others).


Where I have a home in the low country, there is a sex offender data base, including a web site that shows the residence of every sex offender in the area. I suppose that might reduce recidivism since everyone knows who and where they are. Are sex offenders a special class of offenders, or should all offenders be included in a data base with a web site that shows who and where they are? "We also find that DNA registration makes offenders more likely to find employment, enroll in education, and live in a more stable family environment." If one cannot hide, one might as well conform. Everybody is watching anyway. One might ascribe this to surveillance creep. Who's next on the list?

DNA registration seems different from sex offender registration. DNA registration helps catch previous offenders that *commit additional crimes* by comparing DNA at the crime scene against the database. Sex offender registries warn the public about sex offenders in the area regardless of whether those offenders commit new crimes.

I don't think the public can necessarily query the DNA database to see whose DNA is in it.

What makes you think the database is just for criminals? In the US, DNA "registration" happens when your parents get interested in their ancestry as they get older, so they send off their cheek swabs to one of the ancestry companies. Several of these companies make a point of sharing the information with law enforcement, which we only know because several cold cases have been cracked when an offender's parents sent in their DNA.

It was implemented similarly in France with the same success.

in Amerika felons in many states are put in a dna database
but the recidivism rate is still pretty high

Of course if your scientific police is understaffed, the database is a bit useless.

there are supposedly years long waiting delays to get rape kits tested

What's that rule of thumb for business? Average wait time should be 4 times what it takes to deal with an individual case? Maybe they should get it down to 6 times and then we can decide how to speed things up from there.

not testing the rape kits is also a highly effective method
of reducing recidivism/mass incarceration!

If DNA is used mostly in rape cases you are doing it wrong. DNA tests are not very effective in solving rape crimes as rapists will adapt their strategy to DNA tests. They tend to rape people they know now and systematically argue that the victim was consenting. DNA tests are the most effective in homicides, robbery, burglary, terrorism cases. Serial killers have adapted too. They now work in hospitals or make their victims disappear.

zardos is gonna need to see some documentation
about your claims about efficacy of dna in rape vs other crime

We know if big brother keeps your info that crime goes down. But what are the tradeoffs here? Do we really want political types with our DNA on file?

They have our fingerprint at the DMV. As well as anyone who is booked.

This is just a generational transition, shock at a "fingerprint" that actually works.

But not different in kind.

They have on file finger prints of Americans that have or have had NSA security clearances.

Also, incorporators of de novo banks applying for federal bank charters and FDIC insurance must submit fingerprints for FBI criminal background checks, which likely are kept on file.

A more traditional means of deterring crime and reducing recidivism is capital punishment.

Yes! Kill 'em all!


Little known Conrad's line "Exterminate all the brutes!" [in Kurtz' notebook] in his novella, Heart of Darkness, also could be a backhanded reference to the large number of British crimes that involved the death penalty.

When were you in the 'Nam? What outfit?

4th battalion, 12th infantry, mostly near Saigon but I did see some action at Suoi Tre. The crap those commies would eat....

Anyway that was a long time ago and I'm focused on the future or America and the hero saving it.


God bless you, man.

'hey have on file finger prints of Americans that have or have had NSA security clearances. '

It is a much, much more larger pool than that - but perhaps you are unaware of how many states require fingerprinting for driver's licenses when under 18. Or the states that require at least one fingerprint to get or renew a driver's license.

However, that is pretty old fashioned - it is the biometric pictures that is part of the Real ID Act that is the grail of comprehensive linked database building these days.

And I'd rather have a DNA database than be convicted on a bs "partial print."

It's difficult but not impossible to place a fingerprint at a crime scene. By comparison, putting DNA at a crime scene is relatively easy if one has the DNA.

I guess there is that.

DNA just doesn't seem like the sort of thing i want self interested politicians holding. you can just spread it around so easily. why not just put your political opponents dna on a murder weapon?

It’s certainly doable. Cf. Steele Dossier.

Gawd, it there a conservative belief that doesn't reduce to a conspiracy theory at this point? Climate scientists are in it for the money. Population geneticists are hiding racial truths. Obama is a Muslim Kenyan. It's the timing of vaccines that cause autism. Russians are as innocent as lambs.

Anti-vax folks are nuts. There may be racial differences ranging from the minor to the significant. (I’m a historian not a geneticist.) Obama, a thoroughly legit two term president had his American citizenship questioned by a Trump who knew better but used the kerfuffle to grab attention (as he does). (It says a lot about Hillary and a dissatisfied electorate that this orange goof won. And that he’ll be remembered rather more kindly than her.) Obama isn’t a Kenyan Muslim but he managed to garner a reputation for having more sympathy for that demographic than for, say, Appalachians. Thomas Kuhn, someone I believe to be massively overrated is probably correct to assume that scientists are like other people: they respond to incentives. I believe pollution to be bad but resent the term “denier” for what it does to our public discourse. Russia under the kleptocratic Putin is a threat to stability in the ME and elsewhere and to us. And yet every recent prez has tried a reset, just as Trump has tried: why? Because having one less autocratic adversary would be great. We probably can’t change Russia; we’ll have to wait til Putin dies or is overthrown. (Just as we probably can’t bully two reluctant sides into a ME peace process but it seems every admin wants to try nonetheless.)

However... Any sensible moderate American should be appalled at the ease with which the spurious Steele Dossier gained traction, IF ONLY because it could happen to your side next time mousy. And it’s horrible for our Republic, far more horrible than having to endure 4 or 8 years of a slightly right of centre narcissist.

Read the Mueller Report.

I skimmed some (obstruction) and read the more important stuff (high level collusion/coordination with indeterminate quid pro quo’s).

Takeaway: Putin’s inner circle did not even have Trump’s people’s emails.

Question for you: how early did Mueller know with certainty that there was no collusion? And do you still believe there was coordination between the Trump campaign and Putin’s trusted upper echelon types?

If you read the report, why use the word "collusion?"

You should know better.

“The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion,” Mueller wrote. This help “favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The Trump campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,” and “welcomed” this help.

That is, or isn't, "collusion." We don't know because "collusion" has no precise or legal definition.

But I say it stinks, and you know you don't want China and Iran lining up to help Democrats the same way, and you wouldn't want Democrats welcoming it the same way. This is a horrible decline in American pride and sovereignty.

They helped him through the primaries, thinking he'd be easiest to beat. Then they funded protests against him when his opponent was Hillary. All old news.

As opposed to Russia colluded with Trump, Diebold hacked the voting machines in Ohio to elect Bush, upper-middle class white progressive women who refuse to get their children vaccinated (, the big bank, oil, pharma, or capitalists in general conspiracy, the racist, sexist, homo/trans-phobic conspiracy, etc. etc. etc.

BTW, It was Hillary that started the 'born in Kenya' thing during the primaries.

"Population geneticists are hiding racial truths"; seems like this is more common on the Left.

See the backlash against Reich, because he talked about ideas that to some degree, not completely and not with out nuance, confirmed folk models and conventional wisdom and contridicted their sense of "truth". See and two examples: /

Much of which seems to be dislike about how close to the real population structure many folk and popular models of "races" actually are, with an obsessive focus on trying to find relatively small details of how they are not and then stretch this into an inarticulate counterargument which neither now their readers understand.

There seems to be more commonly a belief that the academic human population genetics is enmeshed in a anti-minority racist conspiracy, or "structural racism", with assists "white supremacy" if anything.

For example - .

On authority, Saini misrepresents mainstream geneticists as being part of a "conspiracy" to rebrand race science to the public as the study of human population structure....

Most "DNA" records are data in a computer file, traced to one cheek swab once. To plant some you'd probably have to work harder, stealing the proverbial hair brush, etc.

The confidence we have in the assay itself requires that we be thorough in chain of evidence, and of course keeping those cheek swabs locked up.

Do you think that making Donald Trump's tax returns available to Congressional investigators will reduce Don the Con's tax cheating and recidivism by an elasticity factor of -2.7%?

DNA and tax returns.

I am in favor of public disclosure of taxes paid. You can see my property tax payments but not my income tax payments.

By the way, the Finns do it. Interesting article on the effects of disclosure where some famous people reported very low income, even though they obviously made more:

Curious. In the U.S. the type of major crime for which the level of frequency has decreased the least in the last generation has been forcible rape, which you might think would be the sort of offense for which the probability of apprehension was most enhanced by DNA technology.

That's because rapists have changed strategy to DNA tests. They now rape people they know and systematically argue that the victim was consenting. Serial killers now either get jobs in hospitals or systematically abduct and make their victims disappear. So DNA is most effective in robberies or terrorism where there is a crime scene.

looks like you just made 10 bold claims/narratives in 2 sentences
that could be some sorta social science record!

It's remarkable how often court cases fizzle out because of the non-transparency of supposedly scientific forensics. Even fingerprints are hardly a guaranteed identification technique despite what everyone thinks. Breathalyzer manufacturers refuse to disclose how their apparatus works and DWI cases are thrown out of court. DNA matches are scientism at best. But if a guy in a lab coat with a clipboard says it's for real, we must believe. Then there's Theranos.

My view has long been that street crime should be falling steadily due to all the new technology that makes it harder for crime to pay. Look at the Jussie Smollett hate hoax: if the cops really want to nail you, they can now assemble a hilarious amount of evidence against your little conspiracy.

So upticks, like the 22+% increase in the number of homicides nationally from 2014 to 2016 due to the Obama Administration and the prestige press endorsing Black Lives Matter should be viewed in the context that crime ought to be dropping annually.

Amazing statement Steve: " like the 22+% increase in the number of homicides nationally from 2014 to 2016 due to the Obama Administration ...'

Wow, Steve, all those 22% increased murders are conducted by blacks. Whoda thought.

Just goes to show you can't trust Trump: See, those Mexicans were not the rapist and murderers he claimed they were. It was the Blacks in South Dakota.

But the good news is that all of the national increase in homicides did not include whites. If you live in a white in a white area, or state, you do not need guns and should welcome the Mexicans.

You have a way of making complicated issues really simple.

Maybe he's means blacks were killed by whites because they got uppity when they were told their lives matter?

And just look at how many people Johnson and Nixon killed by increasing the homicide rate during their Presidencies. They must have been history's greatest monsters.

Black lives don't matter to the purveyors of Black Lives Matter. If black lives did matter, they'd be concerned to repair the matrix which allows 8,000 black deaths by homicide each year; we know, from the experience of cities who have adopted best practices, that 3,600 black deaths from homicide is a realistic goal. Instead, the BLM crew is bleating about blacks killed by police, who make up < 3% of all blacks killed by homicide. The number of such cases which are questionable are in a given year in the single digits. We know that, because the cases which the media uses to stir the pot are themselves quite ambiguous or unsupported. BLM is a half Alinskyite / Cloward-Piven effort of sorosphere outfits to sow disorder and half a complaint by black chauvinists that they beautiful ebony selves be subject to the authority of cracker-peasants in police uniforms. (You can see that in the Michael Brown case when Brown has a ballistic reaction to being told to quit walking down the middle of the road like he owned it and use the sidewalk).

BLM is plain evil, and the people like you who promote it are fools and frauds.

Russian? Spent too much time looking at the Russian election propaganda.


Just to be clear, we're talking about the same thing here:

People complaining is evil? What's your take on the American War of Independence then? The thirteen colonies should have put up and shut up?

"You have a way of making complicated issues really simple."

Kind of the opposite of the "Law & Order" effect.

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