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Book Review

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Criminal Justice, DNA, Neil Gerlach, Genetic Imaginary, Book Review


In this well written and intriguing book, Neil Gerlach asks why the criminal justice system has accepted DNA evidence in much the same way that our Anglo-Saxon predecessors accepted trial by ordeal. Why have we not instead shown the same caution we show polygraph evidence? To be sure, he does not present the issue in those terms, and might shudder at the analogy. Still, the central issue he pursues in the book is the question of how DNA evidence has managed to assume its current aura of infallibility, as evidence which is somehow uniquely objective and "true": how it has come to be regarded as an "oracle of truth in criminal justice, superior to the politicized power games of self-interested state agents."