Prisoners' expectations of the national forensic DNA database: surveillance and reconfiguration of individual rights

Forensic Sci Int. 2011 Jul 15;210(1-3):139-43. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.02.020. Epub 2011 Mar 16.


In this paper we aim to discuss how Portuguese prisoners know and what they feel about surveillance mechanisms related to the inclusion and deletion of the DNA profiles of convicted criminals in the national forensic database. Through a set of interviews with individuals currently imprisoned we focus on the ways this group perceives forensic DNA technologies. While the institutional and political discourses maintain that the restricted use and application of DNA profiles within the national forensic database protects individuals' rights, the prisoners claim that police misuse of such technologies potentially makes it difficult to escape from surveillance and acts as a mean of reinforcing the stigma of delinquency. The prisoners also argue that additional intensive and extensive use of surveillance devices might be more protective of their own individual rights and might possibly increase potential for exoneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Civil Rights / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Databases, Nucleic Acid*
  • Genetic Privacy / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Portugal
  • Prisoners*
  • Social Stigma