Boston University Law Review
Publication Title (Abbreviation)
B.U. L. Rev.
Identity has long played a critical role in policing. Learning “who” an individual is not only affords police knowledge of possible criminal history, but also of “what” an individual might have done. To date, however, these matters have eluded sustained scholarly attention, a deficit that has assumed ever greater significance as government databases have become more comprehensive and powerful. Identity evidence, in short, has and continues to suffer from an identity crisis, which this Article seeks to remedy. The Article does so by first surveying the methods historically used by police to identify individuals, from nineteenth-century efforts to measure bodies and note physical marks to today’s sophisticated biometric identifiers. As this history makes clear, the American justice system has not kept pace with evolving developments and has failed to impose meaningful limits on identity evidence. The Article highlights this shortcoming and offers a remedy, focusing on two central, yet unresolved questions: (1) whether and how limits should be placed on the collection, retention and use of legally obtained identity evidence, DNA in particular, and (2) whether identity evidenced illegally secured by police should be subject to suppression. In doing so, the Article provides a much-needed analytic framework for courts as they seek to balance social control needs and individual civil liberties.
© 2012 Wayne A. Logan
Wayne A. Logan,
Policing Identity, 92
B.U. L. Rev.
Available at: https://ir.law.fsu.edu/articles/169