Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Federal expansion of DNA sample collection


by team uab, lsw

This Washington Post article describes a government proposal to extend the policy of DNA sample collection (via cheek swabs) by federal authorities to include those arrested on federal charges, and some illegal immigrants detained by federal law enforcement. Currently, the federal government only collects DNA from those convicted of federal crimes. The proposed expansion builds on a growing state trend:

The move comes as 13 states -- including Virginia and, recently, Maryland -- have passed laws to include many arrestees in their DNA databanks. California, which has more than 1 million profiles, will begin collecting DNA from all felony arrestees next year. The information will be uploaded to the national database, which today houses more than 5.9 million samples, making it the largest forensic DNA databank in the world..

This development raises all kinds of issues, from immigrant rights, to privacy concerns raised by DNA collection, and to the question of how the DNA records of those who are arrested but not convicted (or whose convictions are overturned) are removed from the database. A good summary of the controversy can be found in the article.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I personally believe that this is what we need. It would help tremendously in solving some of the cold cases that are out there. It could possibly help catch the people that committed the crimes were there DNA was left at the scene. Yes there might be some people that falsify evidence for whatever reason, but the majority of Cops and Federssl Agents are trying to do their job. This database would definetly help out.
CMK

Anonymous said...

Expanding the federal DNA database would be extremly beneficial as it would be easier to connect people with crimes. It may also be beneficial in the identification of bodies. Since only people who commited federal crimes get input into the database that only covers a small percentage of people where most people are convicted of other crimes. This would be the best thing to do.
ARJ

Forensic Bloggers said...

good comments.

if CMK and ARJ come back and are reading this, i'd like your opinion on whether all citizens should have to submit their DNA to a database. what would be the benefits and what would be the potential downside?

there are good arguments on both sides.

-jgl

Anonymous said...

I think this is a big step over a hazy line. Who's to say there won't be a 'knocking out of brake lights' to bring in someone just to see if they've been bad? Now, I appreciate the work, but considering the growing backlog of convicted offenders already, this arrestee thing will overburden a floundering system. Who's going to pay for all this. My tax money is busy bailing out people who can't balance their checkbooks.
So, lets say I get arrested. They take the sample ($$), enter my information ($$), run the DNA ($$), and THEN I'm exonnerated. Now yet another person has to find the sample ($$), destroy it ($$), delete the record and file associated paperwork ($$). Lotsa cash with nothing to show for it in the end. Now suppose I'm dripping with guilt, but I cut a deal and I'm let go for information on someone else... what then? Will my info remain? Will all that work again be in vain?
This sound a little like Minority Report with Tom Cruise, but with DNA. It sounds like a good idea, but really where will we draw the (new) line.
MSFS '09

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