U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno said that the justice system must adapt to the potential benefits and dangers of DNA evidence in a speech to a packed ARCO Forum last night.
Reno's address was the keynote of a conference of the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence, a group Reno created in 1998 to explore the moral, ethical and legal implications of DNA testing in the criminal justice system.
"DNA has forever changed the landscape of the criminal justice system," Reno said.
The attorney general and the highly controversial issue drew a capacity crowd of members of the Harvard community and those at Harvard for the conference itself.
Faculty members said they were excited to have the conference take place at Harvard.
"Bringing the [commission] here to the Kennedy School of Government... combines the world of public policy with the world of academics," said Stanton Professor of the First Amendment Frederick F. Schauer, an academic dean of the Kennedy School who was the evening's master of ceremonies. "It represents the school at its interdisciplinary best."
Reno emphasized the importance of using DNA technology to its full potential while still exercising caution.
"We must recognize that information is the lifeblood of law enforcement," said Reno, a graduate of Harvard Law School. "Today's technology [serves] as an ever-better source."
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