Just as the swirls and patterns of fingerprints are unique markers of specific individuals, DNA typing produces unique patterns that are also individual-specific. And today, the application of DNA typing technology to criminal investigations is perhaps the most significant forensic breakthrough of the century. When properly used, it has the potential for identifying the violent criminal sooner than previously possible and for clearing innocent persons who may have been regarded as suspects in a particular crime.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Crime Laboratory in Washington, D.C., will soon begin to use DNA testing methods regularly. Scientists at the FBI's Forensic Science Research and Training Center in Quantico, Va., have recently completed a comprehensive program in which various DNA testing methods were identified, evaluated for forensic applications, and subjected to a series of studies to establish their reliability for use on physical evidence collected during criminal investigations.

Biological specimens such as...

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