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December 27, 2019

The Growing Role of Technology in Criminal Justice

Amongst all segments of the legal field, criminal justice has always been proactive about embracing the latest technological innovations to protect citizens and improve the outcome of legal cases and rulings. As offenders started using technology for committing more sophisticated crimes, the legal system has also started using the latest technology tools to outwit the offenders.

With the advent of new technologies, criminal justice professionals have started making use of these technologies in legal offices, laboratories, and courtrooms. This has enabled today’s forensic investigators, police officers, researchers, judges, and lawyers to remain a step ahead of the criminals. Therefore, all aspiring, as well as current legal professionals, must stay up-to-date with the technological innovations taking place in their field. 

Let us now take a look at some of the most important roles of technology in improving criminal justice.

DNA Testing: In the history of criminal justice, this has probably been one of the most important technological advances. Forensic investigations have been making use of DNA profiling since the early 1980s. The U.S. Department of Justice mentions that the identification of criminals has become incredibly accurate with the help of deoxyribonucleic acid testing. DNA testing has also helped many criminal defense lawyers to reverse wrongful convictions. At present, forensic scientists can access and test DNA samples from old cases as long as some physical evidence is available.  

Big Data: With changing times, big data has now become a critical aspect of all industries. According to IBM (News - Alert), 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated per day around the world. In criminal justice, collection of data helps the legal experts in more than one way. For example, it is much easier to identify suspects by storing DNA and fingerprints in databases. Data is also helpful for law enforcement agencies for recognizing trends of crime and initiating appropriate action.

Rapid Identification Systems: The popularity of big data has also led to the creation of rapid identification systems. Law enforcement officers can use these systems to quickly check the criminal background of an individual by conducting a basic search. Through an in-car computer search, it is possible to instantly identify people that have been pulled over for driving without a license.

The Next Generation Identification (NGI) system by FBI matches individuals with their respective criminal history by using facial recognition, iris recognition, palm prints, and fingerprints. At present, new technologies are being incorporated in the NGI to make it an even more comprehensive system. 

Detection, Monitoring, and Positioning Systems: Nowadays, law enforcement authorities also have the option of detecting and solving criminal activity in real-time using technology. Some of these systems include

  • Drones are being used increasingly these days by the police to observe an area safely, particularly to get the aerial view of an area.
  • Locating criminals and crime scenes are much easier now with the help of GPS. This technology is also used by departments to manage police forces more efficiently. When integrated with other systems, GPS makes data more robust by including location services in reporting.
  • Gunshot technology is used extensively by the police to detect gunfire. It also provides instant access to vital information such as shooting location maps, number of shooters, number of shots fired, etc.  
  • Automatic license plate scanning technology is also used by police officers to find out if any car has been stolen in their area.
  • Surveillance cameras can provide valuable insight for law enforcement by capturing the events taking place in a particular area.

Robotics: Robotics is now making its way into the field of criminal justice, slowly but steadily. At present, robots are used mostly for bomb disposal and reconnaissance in dangerous situations. American police experts suggest that security robots for suspicious activity and patrol intersections will be introduced in the near future.      

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