Incarcerating criminals is a huge taxpayer burden with not a lot of payback. About half of individuals released from prison are locked up again within three years. Many offenders don’t plan for the future, so adding years to their sentence isn’t as much of a deterrent as law enforcement would hope.
Is there a better way to deter crime than the threat of frequent incarceration?
A growing body of evidence suggests the most effective way to deter crime is to increase the probability of getting caught rather than the punishment sentence received.
Instead of hiring more police officers, law enforcement is turning to technology in the form of DNA databases for cheaper and less invasive ways to prevent crime.
Every state in the U.S. has a DNA database for criminal offenders. These separate state databases are linked to form a national network called CODIS, maintained by the FBI. Additionally, there is a separate database contains DNA profiles from unsolved crime scenes.
These databases provide new leads in cold cases and other crimes. Newly-uploaded DNA from a crime scene is compared with the DNA profiles in the offender database. Any matches are sent to local law enforcement and to provide leads on an otherwise cold case.
Ultimately, this means is that offenders who might have expected to get away with their crimes are now more likely to get caught, providing a bigger deterrent to crime.
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