Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 12th gradeF, November 1997

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Deoxyribonucleic Acid - the fingerprint of life also know as DNA was first mapped out in the early 1950's by British biophysicist, Francis Harry Compton Crick and American biochemist James Dewey Watson. They determined the three-dimensional structure of DNA, the substance that passes on the genetic characteristics from one generation to the next. DNA is found in the chromosomes in the nucleus of a cell.

"Every family line has it's own unique pattern of restriction-enzyme DNA fragments. This variation in patterns of DNA fragments found in human genetic lineages is called 'restriction-fragment length polymorphism'(RFLP). (Louis Levine, ?) Because each person, except for identical twins(which have the exact same DNA), is formed from two family lines the pattern of sizes of the fragments from an individual is unique and can serve as a DNA fingerprint of that person. These 'fingerprints' have became very important in identifying criminals in a number of violent crimes where the victims aren't able to.

Blood or semen stains on clothing, sperm cells found in a vaginal swab taken after a rape, or root hairs are all available for analysis. Although other body tissues such as skin cells and saliva can provide genetic information about a person for Forensic Science purposes, blood is the most useful source of inherited traits. If the DNA fingerprints produced from two different samples match, the two samples probably came from the same person.

Here are some examples of court cases where DNA plays an important roll in the outcome of the trial.

----Hauppauge N.Y.---After 11 years in prison for rape Kerry Kotler cried tears of joy becoming one of the first convicts in the United States to be freed by DNA technology.

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At a banquet held for Kotler he...