History of DNA Databases

Every State in the nation has a statutory provision for the establishment of a DNA database that allows for the collection of DNA profiles from offenders convicted of certain crimes. CODIS ("Combined DNA Index System") is a computer software program that enables State, local, and national law enforcement crime laboratories to compare DNA profiles electronically, thereby linking serial crimes to each other and identifying suspects by matching DNA profiles from crime scene evidence with profiles from convicted offenders and arrestees.


The word "Index" in the CODIS name is not arbitrary. CODIS is designed to be a system of pointers to help United States crime laboratories compare and exchange DNA profiles. CODIS is not a criminal history database like the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). A record in the CODIS database, known as a CODIS profile, consists of a specimen identifier, an identifier for the laboratory responsible for the profile, and the results of the DNA analysis (known as the DNA profile). Other than the DNA profile, CODIS does not contain personal identifying information such as names, dates of birth, and social security numbers.

CODIS Indices

In its original form, CODIS consisted of two indices: the Forensic Index and the Convicted Offender Index. The Forensic Index contains evidentiary profiles developed from biological material such as semen, saliva, or blood found at crime scenes. The Convicted Offender Index contains profiles of individuals convicted of crimes specified by State laws. All 50 states have passed DNA legislation authorizing the collection of DNA profiles from certain convicted offenders for submission to CODIS.

In recent years, CODIS has added new indices: the Arrestee Index, the Missing or Unidentified Persons Index, and the Missing Persons Reference Index. CODIS automatically searches across these indices for a potential match to aid criminal investigations of crimes from which unknown biological evidence has been recovered. It is important to note that if a hit is obtained from a convicted offender or arrestee sample, the hit is typically used as probable cause to obtain an additional DNA sample from that suspect so that the match can be confirmed by the crime laboratory before an arrest is made.


The National DNA Index (NDIS) contains over 9,110,007 offender profiles ans 346,613 forensic profiles as of November 2010. Ultimately, the success of the the CODIS program will be measured by the crimes it helps to solve. CODIS' primary metric, the "Investigations Aided," tracks the number of criminal investigations where CODIS has added value to the investigative process. As of November 2010, CODIS has produced over 130,900 hits assisting in more than 127,600 investigations.

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