Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Criminal Justice

Advisor

Mark Stallo

Abstract

The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database is utilized in all 50 states for matching DNA evidence with criminal suspects. While each state administers CODIS, which ultimately feeds into a national database, little is understood about how citizens in states perceive the utility of such a database and how their perceptions and knowledge of DNA could impact state policy changes though voting. Research also suggests that the â??CSI Effectâ?? may impact how citizens perceive the role of a national DNA database. Grounded on Gerbner's cultivation theory, the purpose of this study was to determine if, in Alabama, there is a statistically significant relationship between the likelihood of providing DNA and the educational level and gender of study participants and perceptions concerning expanded support state participation in CODIS. Data were collected through an online survey administered to a random sample (n = 584) residents of Alabama that focused on examined the relationships between demographics variables of age, race or ethnicity, level of education and the CSI effect, and support of increased participation in in a standardized national DNA database. Findings indicate that there is not a statistically significant relationship between the CSI effect and support of participation in CODIS. However, data analysis revealed that level of education (p=.05) and gender (p=<.001) were significant predictors in supporting increased state participation in a standardized national DNA database. The implications for positive social change stemming from this study include recommendations to the state legislature to consider expanding the scope of the policy on DNA database submission and take steps to move toward standardizing the database nationally.

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